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Focus on fair play and respect at UEFA EURO 2024

After match officials met with all 24 teams to emphasise the importance of setting a positive example, UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti discussed the topic with media ahead of the tournament kick-off.

UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti speaks to media at the Munich Football Arena
UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti speaks to media at the Munich Football Arena UEFA via Getty Images

With the opening match of UEFA EURO 2024 between Germany and Scotland now just two days away, UEFA managing director for refereeing Roberto Rosetti spoke to media at the Munich Football Arena just hours after announcing that France's Clément Turpin will officiate the first game.

"These are the best referees in the world," Rosetti said. "In this list, the level is better than EURO 2020 and we are super happy about this. We followed only one criteria: quality."

Clément Turpin (centre) with assistant referees Benjamin Pages (left), and Nicolas Danos (right)
Clément Turpin (centre) with assistant referees Benjamin Pages (left), and Nicolas Danos (right) UEFA via Getty Images

A tournament for fair play

Ahead of the big kick-off, referees and UEFA Referees Committee members have visited all 24 team training bases to present and discuss a variety of directives for the tournament. On Wednesday, Rosetti shared the same presentation with media from across the continent.

High on the agenda of the squad meetings was on-field communication, with emphasis placed on the importance of respect towards officials in the hope of portraying a better image of the game to young players and fans.

Rosetti and his team have informed players and coaches that referees will open a line of dialogue with team captains during matches to offer information and explain key decisions, including what is discussed with Video Assistant Referees (VARs).

Only the captain, or a designated outfield player if the captain is a goalkeeper, should speak with the referee during these clarifications. Other players must respect the referee, keep their distance and not surround match officials, with instances of aggression and dissent to be dealt with firmly.

"We shared the idea with the EURO 2024 coaches and spoke about this topic inside our UEFA Football Board, with top players, former players and coaches," Rosetti explained. "And, all together, we agreed about this situation and then went to the teams. They are happy about this."

"We are doing this not for the referees or the UEFA Referees Committee, but for football, the image of the game and the next generation.

"These sessions [with the teams] were very productive. All the players interacted in a very good way – they wanted to know how we wanted to apply this open dialogue with the captains and they were absolutely satisfied about this. I am sure it will be a fantastic example for the next era of football."

Referees have also been instructed to be strict on serious foul play, holding in the penalty area, simulation and players who wave imaginary cards attempting to influence decisions.

"One of the most important things for referees is to protect the players – the safety of the main actors of the game – and serious foul play is something we cannot accept," Rosetti said. "With simulation, the situation is improving; VAR is helping to delete this sort of unsporting behaviour."

Technology to benefit everyone

As well as referees clarifying decisions with captains on the field, fans in the stands and watching at home will be better informed, with EURO 2024 set to offer more context and explanation around VAR decisions thanks to in-stadium big screens and direct information for commentators and broadcasters.

In addition, connected ball technology will be implemented for the first time at a EURO finals, and fans will likewise be kept in the loop. The adidas connected ball supports faster in-match decisions and can help VAR officials to identify every individual touch of the ball, reducing time spent resolving handball and penalty incidents. Fans will be able to see on-screen graphics that show where a ball has or has not been touched.

More on technology at EURO 2024

When the Line is Crossed – new on UEFA.tv

Rosetti also used the occasion to premiere UEFA's new documentary When the Line is Crossed, which focuses on the abuse that referees can face throughout their careers.

It offers insights into the impact of physical and mental abuse on referees at both elite and grassroots levels of the game and includes first-hand testimonies from affected officials, as well as from footballing greats including Luís Figo and Esteban Cambiasso.

The documentary follows last year's launch of UEFA's Be a Referee! campaign, which highlights the positive aspects of the role and aims to recruit 40,000 new officials each season.

On the flip side, When the Line is Crossed addresses one of the main reasons that referees quit the game. It reminds the football community that we must never cross the line into abuse and that once the 90 minutes are over, we are all on the same team and that abuse against referees is abuse against football itself.

When the Line is Crossed

Watch When the Line Is Crossed

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