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UEFA has issued the UEFA EURO 2012 referees a series of guidelines to be followed this summer and reiterated its confidence in the officials' abilities to produce top-class performances in Poland and Ukraine.
On Wednesday, UEFA's chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina gave a comprehensive rundown at this week's EURO preparatory workshop in Warsaw of what is expected of the officials when the finals get under way on 8 June. Protection of players and the game's image, and punishment for mobbing the referee, as well as for incidents of mass confrontation, are among the instructions delivered by the UEFA Referees Committee.
The 31 games in Poland and Ukraine will each be handled by a referee, two assistant referees and fourth official, supplemented by two additional assistant referees as well as a reserve assistant referee. The additional assistant referees, who stand behind the byline and focus in particular on penalty area incidents, are being deployed as part of a continuing experiment, authorised by the International Football Association Board.
"One of the main goals is to protect players, and we have reminded the referees to deal with challenges that could potentially endanger the safety of a player," said Collina. "We don't want to have referees surrounded by protesting players. This does not give a good image, and yellow cards are to be expected. Nor do we want to see 20 players in a mass confrontation – yellow cards will be given to the initiators."
Collina explained that the referees selected in December were chosen on the basis of performances in UEFA's major competitions over the past couple of years, as well as on their experience. Twelve quintets – referees, assistant referees and additional assistant referees - have been picked from 12 different countries.
Winter training at UEFA's course in Antalya, Turkey is being followed by a dedicated preparation programme, and UEFA Referees' Committee members and observers have been monitoring the officials' progress in UEFA club competitions this spring.
In Warsaw, the match officials have attended 16 hours of lectures on various topics, and took a fitness test at the city's Agrykola Sport Complex. A coaching programme has also been tailor-made for the assistant referees – "Their role is crucial, as their decisions can affect the outcome of a match," Collina explained.
"EURO 2012 is the most important competition for UEFA – we have to have all of our match officials ready to give their best possible performance during the competition," the Italian added. "We need athletes, not just referees – being fit is important. We are taking great care of this."
"The instructions given to the match officials will be exactly the same as those delivered to the players and coaches. I and members of the Referees Committee will visit each national-team camp to speak to coaches and players - we would like referees, coaches and players to be speaking the same language in terms of football, interpretation and the Laws of the Game."
"We will continue our preparations right until kick-off," Collina added. "Our referees are involved in major domestic and UEFA club competitions. They are at the end of a demanding season. It will be important for them to be ready. I hope what the referees do will be reported. They are dealing with their task very professionally and doing their best to be 100% prepared. UEFA is sure they will do a great job."
Confidence is high that the referees will cope admirably with public and media spotlight at the tournament. "The referees are used to refereeing important matches in their countries," said Collina. "They are ready to face any kind of pressure. We have referees who have refereed UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and FIFA World Cup finals. They are here because they deserve to be here…."
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