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UEFA primes top young officials for progress

Members About UEFA Referee Training

Twenty-one emerging match officials are a step closer to the international stage thanks to our latest Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE) course at UEFA HQ.

Over the past week, young referees and assistant referees from seven national associations (Croatia, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Sweden) have been learning at our CORE course, an introductory programme designed for officials who are working towards their international badges.

The course offers a range of discussions, seminars and training sessions to help them advance in their careers, providing an intensive 360-degree preparation for elite-level football.

Dutch referee Alex Bos, 29, believes the programme will be of huge benefit as he prepares to take the next step in his career.

"It's great to go in-depth and work hard on what is our passion," Bos said. "There are so many things that referees must do to help us make the right decisions. We are all at a high level in our own countries, but it's good that we can discuss and develop in this setting and see how things are done in other leagues."

CORE: UEFA's commitment to referee development

UEFA kicked off the CORE programme in 2010, targeting and developing young and promising match officials to prepare them for the intensity and ever-growing demands of elite-level football. This edition was the 58th such programme, which has helped to prepare more than 1,300 officials for the rigours of UEFA competition.

As well as offering practical and technical guidance, CORE helps to create a community among officials and familiarity between groups ahead of joining UEFA's international refereeing list.

David Elleray, a former elite referee and now Technical Director at the IFAB, football's lawmakers, has been involved with the UEFA CORE programme since its launch 14 years ago.

"We have given you a lot of information and would like you to take some time to absorb that information," he told participants.

"CORE is designed to give you ideas which are technical, physical, dietary and mental, which help with preparation and administration, with the addition of some broader lifestyle ideas.

"The motto of CORE is to learn and enjoy. we hope you have learnt a lot and enjoyed it. CORE is very special to a lot of people and the philosophy, learning and enjoyment are something that will stay with you."

A visit from Szymon Marciniak, who refereed last season's UEFA Champions League final, as well as the 2022 FIFA World Cup final, rounded off an invaluable week for the young cohort.

The Pole, who was a student on the first-ever CORE course, offered insights into his career and important advice for the future.

Szymon Marciniak with the Dutch CORE students
Szymon Marciniak with the Dutch CORE studentsUEFA

"I started here, exactly like you," said the 43-year-old. "Now, I am in a different place, but nothing comes for free. Here at CORE, you get great coaches, great mentors, and when you are here it means you are talented, but nothing is for free. Hard work is also very important, as are the people behind us who gave us all those tools, so listen to those who want to help you."

Marciniak's message seemed to leave an impression on the participants, who now return to their domestic leagues ready to implement some of the lessons learnt over the past week.

"Szymon is a very, very, very big example and like a hero because of how he has performed and what he achieved," said Bos. "He has a very nice story and we are honoured that he was here. He's very humble, shows us also that he made mistakes and how he tries to avoid it. I was there for an hour without taking a breath, only listening."

Be a Referee!

Last summer, UEFA launched our first-ever refereeing recruitment campaign – Be a Referee! – aiming to attract 40,000 new officials each season.

The campaign is part of a wider programme to support member national associations in their activities to recruit and retain referees, aiming to increase knowledge about refereeing, highlight the importance of referees for the game and inspire young people start a career as a match official.

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