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Coaches on board for fair play at UEFA EURO 2024

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Finalists' workshop brings together all 24 competing teams to discuss refereeing and football matters.

England coach Gareth Southgate with French counterpart Didier Deschamps during the EURO 2024 finalists' workshop in Düsseldorf
England coach Gareth Southgate with French counterpart Didier Deschamps during the EURO 2024 finalists' workshop in Düsseldorf UEFA via Getty Images

Referees will give extra attention to fair play and respectful behaviour at UEFA EURO 2024 this summer.

Coaches and technical staff from all 24 competing nations joined UEFA's finalists' workshop in Düsseldorf on Monday, where they heard from UEFA on a range of important topics to help them prepare for the tournament.

Roberto Rosetti, UEFA managing director of refereeing, presented some of the directives and guidelines that will be shared with referees this summer, with a clear emphasis on respecting match officials.

"We have exactly the same job as you as we prepare to select our team," Rosetti told the coaches. "We are in the process of selecting our referees, and the best referees will be selected, with no other condition.

"Unacceptable players’ behaviour is a problem for officials. The players are following you and if you are calm, your players are more calm," he explained. "We want to avoid unnecessary cards and protect the image of the game, so we will be strong with mobbing and clear dissent. This is about protecting the image of the game and a positive legacy for future generations. We have to do something and we need you because you are super important for us."

UEFA managing director of refereeing Roberto Rosetti addresses the coaches
UEFA managing director of refereeing Roberto Rosetti addresses the coachesUEFA via Getty Images

Rosetti also confirmed that UEFA's experienced team of refereeing specialists and, where possible, a tournament referee will meet with each of the 24 squads ahead of the tournament to discuss technical and disciplinary guidelines in detail.

Referees at UEFA EURO 2024

Eighteen to 20 referees and their teams of assistants will be selected for duty at EURO 2024, with the officials due to be confirmed in late April.

Match officials will have their base camp during the tournament in Frankfurt, with VAR officials to be based in Leipzig.

There will be a tournament workshop for officials from 13-16 May.

Technology and refereeing at EURO 2024

EURO 2024 will be the most technically advanced EURO yet, with connected ball technology added to VAR, semi-automated offside (SAOT) and goal-line technology for the first time.

The official match ball contains motion sensors that send precise data in real time, helping UEFA's match officials and VARs to identify every individual touch of the ball, reducing time spent resolving offside, handball and penalty incidents. The data will also be used to create TV graphics and visualisations, ensuring fans at home benefit as well as the players on the pitch.

Rosetti explained the approach to VAR with the phrase, "Minimum interference for maximum benefit."

In other words, VAR will only step in when there is evidence of a clear and obvious mistake.

"We want referees with strong personalities to take decisions on the pitch," Rosetti said. "We want to use our VARs only when there is evidence of a mistake."

This will follow the successful implementation of the system at EURO 2020, when there were a total of just 18 VAR corrections across the 51 matches, nine of which were for close offside decisions.

"In the event of tight offsides, we are asking assistant referees to keep the flag down," Rosetti explained. "We are telling them to raise the flag only if they are sure. If they are not 100 per cent sure, they have to keep the flag down. With SAOT, offside is solved, and can save a lot of time with decisions."

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann speaks to media following the session
Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann speaks to media following the sessionUEFA via Getty Images

Discussion on EURO 2024 squad sizes

During the session, UEFA also took the opportunity to discuss squad sizes for the forthcoming tournament with the assembled coaches.

EURO 2024 squads are currently limited to 23 players, a return to the regulations employed prior to EURO 2020, when an increase to 26 was permitted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The positive discussions highlighted different points of view among coaches, with some expressing a desire to increase the squad size, with more choice available to tackle the threat of injuries and the intense physical demands placed upon players. Others stated their preference to cap the squad size at 23, pointing out the difficulty in training and managing the group with additional players.

UEFA has taken note of the various opinions and points of view shared, with a final decision to be made in the coming weeks.