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Additional assistant referees on Ljubljana agenda

The meeting of UEFA's top match officials in Slovenia continued with participants being instructed, guided and refreshed about the experiment with two additional assistant referees.

The UEFA Summer Gathering for UEFA Top Referees is taking place this week
The UEFA Summer Gathering for UEFA Top Referees is taking place this week ©NZS

The experiment involving two additional assistant referees – which is to continue in UEFA's club competitions for the next two seasons – was a special focal point on the agenda at the eighth UEFA Summer Gathering for UEFA Top Referees in Ljubljana.

UEFA's Referees Committee made use of the gathering to instruct, guide and refresh Europe's leading referees about the system, which is being continued on a trial basis following a recent decision by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). Under the system, the referee, two assistant referees and the fourth official are accompanied by two additional assistants who take up positions alongside each goal.

Their particular remit is to concentrate on incidents that take place in the penalty area, such as holding or pushing at set-piece situations. "Additional assistants must not be static," said UEFA refereeing officer Hugh Dallas. "They must be active and move along the goal line to ensure the best view [or] angle of any possible incident." In addition, the referee's decision remains final vis-a-vis any information given to him by the fourth official. UEFA also heard the viewpoints of referees already involved in the experiment in last season's UEFA Europa League.

UEFA is determined to combat match-fixing and corruption in the game, and is undertaking widespread educational work to warn about the dangers of becoming involved in such malpractices. Following sessions with youth footballers at recent European Under-17 and U19 final rounds, it was the turn of the referees to hear about UEFA's intensive work in the fight against illegal betting and manipulation of matches.

The head of UEFA's disciplinary services, Peter Limacher, told the referees about the comprehensive Betting Fraud Detection System (BFDS) put in place by UEFA – in which matches in UEFA competitions are monitored, as well as games in the top two domestic divisions throughout UEFA's 53 member national associations – as well as UEFA's invaluable help to the authorities in cracking down on organised crime in the area of match-fixing. He urged the referees to report to UEFA any potential malpractices or illicit approaches made to them, and to show particular vigilance and care within their social environment.

Fitness remains a matter of the utmost importance for top-class referees, and UEFA was keen to ensure that its referees are in good shape ahead of the new campaign. The UEFA elite and premier referees undertook a fitness test under the supervision of referee fitness expert Werner Helsen and his team, while the officials were also monitored for body mass measurements.

The UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina – now working at the service of refereeing after a distinguished career as a match official at the highest levels – made a passionate plea to the referees to maintain a good image at all times. "You are very well-known people worldwide, and you have a great privilege in being known," the Italian said. "We are particularly concerned about the image of the entire group of referees. You are recognised, and therefore you have a very high responsibility – both at a venue and at home."