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Referees set for EURO 2024 adventure

Tournament match officials gather at Frankfurt base camp to prepare for their month-long assignment.

UEFA EURO 2024 referees Michael Oliver, Clément Turpin and Istvan Kovács
UEFA EURO 2024 referees Michael Oliver, Clément Turpin and Istvan Kovács

Match officials selected for duty at UEFA EURO 2024 are ready for action after a two-day workshop in Frankfurt.

The event brought together the 19 selected referees and their assistants, as well as VARs and supporting officials, for an in-depth briefing a month ahead of the tournament, which runs from 14 June to 14 July.

The workshop was the first gathering of all 89 EURO 2024 officials, and a perfect opportunity to familiarise themselves with their tournament base camp, a country hotel complex just outside Frankfurt, selected as a convenient central location for travel to each of the ten match venues across the country.

The group, which also features a team of officials from Argentina thanks to UEFA's on-going collaboration with CONMEBOL, will spend more than one month together as they prepare for the 51 matches to come.

Referees take a break during the EURO 2024 workshop
Referees take a break during the EURO 2024 workshop

Such a high-profile tournament, the third-biggest sporting stage in the world, brings with it plenty of pressure to perform, but also represents a high point in officials' careers, a point Roberto Rosetti, UEFA's managing director of refereeing, was keen to emphasise.

"Welcome to Germany and congratulations on being here. You are at one of the best tournaments in the world, so enjoy these moments. They are among the most important and beautiful moments in all your life. I am fully convinced that this is the best list of referees ever for a football tournament. We are so proud of the names on this list and you must be proud to be here too."

Roberto Rosetti's message to EURO 2024 officials

"I was very pleased to be selected for EURO 2024, it is a big achievement and was one of my personal goals, but I am also aware that it is a big responsibility and the most difficult part is still to come. This workshop is the best way to prepare, all here together to receive the same messages in a focused, friendly environment."

François Letexier, EURO 2024 referee

During the workshop, the referees received wide-ranging updates around match organisation, medical, technology and integrity matters, but the main focus was on their roles across the all-important 90 minutes.

Protecting the image of the game

One of the key points on the agenda was how referees should manage player and coach behaviour during matches.

Rosetti published an open letter earlier this week detailing the importance of working with teams to present a positive image and set the right example for younger players and supporters.

Roberto Rosetti addresses EURO 2024 match officials
Roberto Rosetti addresses EURO 2024 match officials

It was a topic also discussed with team coaches at the recent finalists' briefing in Düsseldorf and with UEFA's Football Board, and presented once more to officials here in Frankfurt.

"We are talking about the image of the game. Players and coaches must respect our job and if they don’t, we will take action," Rosetti explained.

To encourage respect and fair play, UEFA has issued a new directive for EURO 2024, whereby referees will speak directly with team captains to explain key decisions on the pitch. The directive will be discussed in detail with each of the 24 participating teams at their base camps ahead of the tournament.

Captain-referee cooperation at EURO 2024

To enhance fair play and respect at EURO 2024, referees will open a line of dialogue with to give information and explain key decisions to team captains, including what was discussed with VARs.

Only the captain should speak with the referee during thee clarifications and in a mutually respectful manner. The captain should take responsibility for his team-mates, asking them to respect the referee, keep their distance and not surround the match officials.

Where the captain is the goalkeeper and not close to the action, they should nominate a single outfield player to represent them during the referee's explanations. This player will be identified when team's match sheets are submitted 75 minutes prior to kick-off.

Elite-level fitness for a world-class competition

It is not just players that need to be in peak condition for EURO 2024. Match officials must also be ready for action at the highest level, prepared to run up to 13 kilometres per match at high intensity while making split-second decisions.

UEFA monitors officials' fitness throughout the season, providing bespoke training programmes and testing to ensure optimal performance. In Frankfurt, they were put through their paces by specialist fitness coaches with a series of drills aiming to keep them sharp ahead of the tournament.

"Referees and assistant referees have no choice. You need to be injury free, fresh and fit when you come to the tournament. Training quality has been very high and we are very confident that you are doing a good job."

Werner Helsen, UEFA referee fitness coach

Officials complete a task during their fitness exercises
Officials complete a task during their fitness exercises

VAR at UEFA EURO 2024

Rosetti and UEFA's refereeing team presented different match situations to the officials, discussing the occasions when interventions should take place.

UEFA's approach during the tournament will mirror that in our club competitions. VAR will not overrule referees' on-field decisions unless the video reviews shows evidence of a clear and obvious mistake, with the final call always being made by the referee.

It is a message Rosetti shared with team coaches in Düsseldorf last month, where he emphasised "minimum interference for maximum benefit", with referees urged to trust their judgment and make strong decisions on the field.

With this encouragement and confidence from UEFA's refereeing leaders ringing in their ears, officials now return home to complete their domestic, and in some cases, European club seasons, before they reconvene in Germany in early June. The countdown is well and truly on!

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