The UEFA EURO 2020 referee team has earned glowing reports for the impressive new benchmarks they set at the tournament – and the video assistant referees (VAR) also achieved the highest standards on their EURO debut.
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The chairman of UEFA's Referees Committee, Roberto Rosetti, has spoken of his pride and pleasure at the outstanding overall performance of Europe's leading match officials at UEFA EURO 2020.
The referee teams' work on and off the field earned them constant plaudits and won them renewed respect over an intense month of EURO action.
Speaking at a post-EURO briefing on Wednesday, Rosetti also gave top marks to the video assistant referee (VAR) teams for their vital contribution in helping to ensure that correct refereeing decisions were taken at the 51 matches played at 11 venues across Europe. In addition, he thanked players and coaches for their conduct towards referees during the tournament.
'Very proud of them'
"The refereeing at the EURO was extremely successful, and we're very satisfied," said Rosetti. "There were some great performances – not only from the referees, but also from the assistant referees. The referees were always in control and produced a very high level of accuracy in their decision-making. They've been professional in everything that they've done – we're very proud of them."
Rosetti, a former international referee himself, especially welcomed the widespread praise given to the EURO match officials. "The scope to criticise the referees was very limited," he reflected. "Their work over 51 matches was seamless. We saw more positive comments about referees than ever before."
Strength and human skills
Nineteen referees and their teams were chosen to take part in the EURO. "The selection of the referees proved to be crucial," Rosetti explained. "We looked for strong referees with excellent human qualities. The players and coaches immediately understood these qualities, and I think this was one of the keys to the referees' success at the tournament."
Rosetti also identified the close bond among the referees at their EURO basecamp in Istanbul as an essential factor. "There was a fantastic atmosphere within the referees," he said. "The professional work of the fitness team, UEFA's staff and everyone working behind the scenes was also a massive help to them. We had a family feeling, with everyone pulling together to make everything run smoothly.
"The referee from South America, Fernando Rapallini, was a fine addition to the team with the quality of his refereeing, and he integrated within the referees' group perfectly."
Praise for players and coaches
Rosetti hailed the players and coaches of the 24 participating teams for their attitude towards the match officials. An important aspect had been the visits made by UEFA's refereeing officers to the teams ahead of the EURO to explain the UEFA refereeing guidelines and instructions, and what was expected of the teams. "I want to congratulate the players and especially the coaches for their behaviour and their style," he said. "During the semi-finals and final in particular, I thought that the coaches gave a great lesson in fair play."
Referees: Facts and figures
Rosetti presented key refereeing statistics from the EURO:
Drop in fouls
Number of fouls in comparison with EURO 2016 (51 matches)
Fewer yellow cards
Yellow cards in comparison with EURO 2016 (51 matches)
Rosetti: "In particular, there were fewer yellow cards for dissent."
Red cards in comparison with EURO 2016 (51 matches)
Why VAR worked at the EURO
VAR facts and figures
Two rooms on UEFA's campus in Nyon were set up for VAR operations. At each of the 51 EURO matches, the main video assistant referee (VAR) was accompanied by an assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) and an offside video assistant referee.
The VAR was the leader of the team and the main point of contact with the referee, with the task of focusing on incidents. The AVAR concentrated on following the match while the offside VAR evaluated all potential offside situations.
276 incidents checked in 51 matches (5.4 incidents checked every match)
93.5% of decisions on the pitch correct
18 VAR corrections (9 offside, 4 foul play, 2 handball, 1 use of elbow, 1 hard tackle, 1 denying goalscoring opportunity)
10 direct corrections
8 on-field reviews
1 correction every 2.83 matches
Tight offside incidents: 30 (9 VAR reviews)
No wrong decisions (100% accuracy)
Rosetti: "Offside is no longer an issue. We are using the best technology and following its development."
More penalties – accurate VAR
Penalties in comparison with EURO 2016
2020: 17 – 6 came from VAR intervention, all of them were 100% correct
Rosetti: "VAR helped provide a more accurate evaluation of incidents in the penalty area."
'Best VARS in the world'
Rosetti said that the work of the VAR teams in Nyon had been exemplary. "I believe that Europe has the best VARs in the world," he emphasised.
"We feel that VAR is an incredible tool for football, because it helps prevent clear and obvious refereeing mistakes. The 18 VAR corrections at the EURO were all 100% right, which shows the quality of the work that the VAR teams did. We can accept referees' mistakes on the field – these can happen – but it's very difficult to accept mistakes by VARs in front of a video screen. Consequently, we were pleased that the EURO VARs' decisions were so reliable."
Helping referees – and the game
Rosetti underlined that the aim of the VAR system was to help not only the referees, but also football. "Minimum interference for maximum benefit," he explained.
"We're working hard every day to improve the system that is in place, because there's always room for improvement. Results show that we're getting faster as far as VAR interventions on a global level are concerned. Communication between referees and VARs is improving. The full picture shows that we're getting better.
"The aim is not to investigate every small detail in a match. VAR can be very dangerous if the system is not used appropriately. There are a lot of borderline situations in football matches, and VAR can't eliminate discussions about such situations. But I'm sure that if we began checking the smaller things, people would not like this kind of football."