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Top female referees prepare for huge moments ahead

Referee Training

Sixty-three officials attend UEFA Advanced Course for Top Referees in Lisbon.

Referees Cheryl Foster, Stéphanie Frappart and Rebecca Welch
Referees Cheryl Foster, Stéphanie Frappart and Rebecca Welch UEFA

Europe's top female referees convened in Portuguese capital Lisbon this week to prepare for a demanding second half of the season.

UEFA gathers leading officials twice each season, once at the beginning and once around the halfway stage, to deliver training sessions, tests and workshops to ensure they are in peak condition for the demands awaiting them in Europe's top competitions.

In the case of women's football, the Advanced Course for Top Referees comes just after the inaugural UEFA Women's Nations League final and the knockout phase of the UEFA Women's Champions League is about to begin.

Fitness coach Werner Helsen delivers his instructions
Fitness coach Werner Helsen delivers his instructionsUEFA

'Intensive and important'

We strive to foster talent and promote high standards when it comes to match officials, and the rousing words of Roberto Rosetti, UEFA chief refereeing officer, will be ringing in the ears of course participants as they return home this weekend.

"All of you are like jewels to us. Here is the best of the best and all of you are very important," he said. "This is the best moment of your life, being on the field doing something you love. But I hope you feel a little nervous, because that's supposed to happen on a course like this, which is intended to be intensive and important. The second part the season is here and it will be demanding.

"Women's football is evolving and we want you to do the same," Rosetti continued. "It's vital to keep up the pace. We want to see authentic athletes on the field. A few days ago, at the UEFA Women's Nations League final, I saw the level of preparation of Spain and France, and I was impressed. You must aspire to be like them or even better, but certainly never inferior."

A total of 63 referees from all corners of Europe were present, enjoying a comprehensive programme of activities across the four-day course. Theorical sessions, physical training, video analysis and discussion groups are a vital part of these courses and essential for the evolution of referees.

Tess Olofsson, UEFA Women's Nations League final referee:

"Women's football is growing and I want to grow with it, giving my best in every game I participate. This course is important because the variety of situations it addresses and the tools it puts at our disposal are of great importance."

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Dagmar Damková, former international referee and current UEFA refereeing officer, argues that this is the only way to achieve "consistency", a vital component of refereeing.

"Whether it's men's or women's football, the rules are the same and must be applied uniformly," she said. "We want the referees to be consistent. That's the key word. This course is important for us to have referees ready and well prepared to deliver the perfect performance."

Part of the group after completing a fitness session
Part of the group after completing a fitness sessionUEFA

With the game continuing to grow and develop, it is important for UEFA and the referees to be at the forefront of this advancement.

Concluding his speech, Rosetti asked for "consistency and focus" for the future, as a way for the referees to show their ability. "Confidence pays off on the field," he said. "The recipe is simple: Get an appointment, do your best and show what you're worth. A good performance is the best result you can present, and that will make you continue to evolve."

Portugal's successful referee recruitment

Host of this event, the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) has reason to believe in a promising future for domestic refereeing. In 2024, the country has its highest number of male and female international referees (39) yet, combining football and futsal.

There is also evidence that our Be a Referee! campaign, launched last summer, is bearing fruit.

"I'd like to congratulate UEFA, and Roberto Rosetti in particular, for launching the Be a Referee! campaign, it's a crucial thing," said José Fontelas Gomes, FPF Refereeing Committee president. "The campaign was a huge success here, because in three months we managed to recruit 1137 new candidates, 400 of whom are already referees. We have been working on women's refereeing, where we have grown a lot, and in general we've been focusing a lot in training, instructing all the district refereeing committees. The fact that we have three referees attending this course proves that the work is being done well and is recognised by UEFA."

The Be a Referee! campaign aims to inspire young people to become a match official and is our first-ever recruitment drive for grassroots referees, aiming to attract 40,000 officials across Europe each season.

How you can be a referee