UEFA Referees Committee members have visited all of the 16 teams taking part in UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 for briefings on how referees at the tournament will interpret the Laws of the Game.
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UEFA refereeing officer Dagmar Damková told a UEFA media conference in Manchester on Tuesday that the move was aimed at ensuring that players and coaches knew what to expect from referees – and what the referees expected from teams in return.
The teams were informed about the technical guidelines given by UEFA to the referees for the tournament on issues such as offside, handball, penalty area incidents and protecting players from reckless challenges.
“We gave the same presentation to all of the teams, to clearly show them what the referees have been instructed to do,” said Damková. “It means that everybody is now on the same page. The teams are totally aware of how the referees will act and take decisions on the field.”
The Referees Committee visits to teams have proved successful at the last two men’s EUROs, with players and coaches learning in particular what to expect from referees, while also having the opportunity to put their own views forward on refereeing matters.
VARs – positive feelings
The video assistant referee (VAR) system is being used at the Women’s EURO finals for the first time after its deployment in last season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League from the quarter-finals onwards. Sixteen VARs are in England for the tournament, and Damková said she felt sure that the system would prove its worth as an important aid to the referees in the decision-making process.
“All of the VARs have been working in the major UEFA men’s competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League, as well as in the Women’s Champions League,” she explained. “They’ve all gained considerable experience and knowledge, and they all know the referees at this EURO. I’m really positive that everything will go well.”
Damková said that the 13 referees, 25 assistant referees and two support officials/fourth officials on duty at the Women’s EURO in England had been chosen as part of a rigorous selection process. “We’ve followed the referees very closely over the past three years, and the officials for this tournament have been carefully selected on the basis of their international and domestic performances.
“I really think that Europe’s female referees are the best,” she added, “and we’ve gone for a mixture of experience and youth for this EURO, because we feel that an important part of our job is also to prepare the top referees of the future.”
During a distinguished refereeing career, Damková was a member of the referees’ team at two Women’s EUROs, in 2005 and 2009, officiating at the final in the latter tournament. “You can’t compare anything now with how the situation was then,” she reflected.
“Female referees have more people around them nowadays – for example, they have educators, coaches and fitness plans. I think it’s true to say that this development has gone hand in hand with the development of women’s football over the years.”