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Roberto Rosetti: Referees will explain key decisions to captains at EURO 2024

Responsibility should be shared between officials and captains to protect the image of the game at UEFA EURO 2024.

Roberto Rosetti
Roberto Rosetti UEFA via Getty Images

UEFA managing director of refereeing Roberto Rosetti has written an open letter ahead of UEFA EURO 2024, which is today published on UEFA.com.

Being a referee in the modern game is very difficult. The official in the middle takes between 200 and 250 decisions per match – that is one every 22 seconds – in difficult and sometimes controversial situations, under huge pressure, with each of them scrutinised and rewatched from multiple different angles by fans and pundits alike.

We want strong-personality referees taking and assuming decisions - which can sometimes be unpopular - on the pitch but, at the same time, we want them to be more open and explain what led to certain decisions. They receive a lot of information from the video assistant referee (VAR), and we are ready to speak and share more details with the players and coaches to help them understand how a decision was taken.

The subject of player and coach behaviour is an ever-important topic in football – coaches agreed to work towards fair play in April’s UEFA EURO 2024 finalists’ workshop, while it was one of the main topics at the recent UEFA Football Board meeting in Nyon. Both coaches and players strongly welcomed and supported our new approach as a shared objective for the well-being of the game.

Explaining a decision with up to 22 players mobbing you is impossible for a referee. It can lead to a breakdown in communication, with the beautiful game turning very ugly very quickly, which, everyone agrees, is bad for the image of football.

Some decisions will, of course, always be debated. However, in a bid to improve the status quo we at UEFA want referees to explain more of their decisions to all teams competing at the upcoming UEFA EURO 2024 tournament.

How will we do this? The idea is simple: we ask that all teams ensure their captain is the only player who speaks to the referee. We ask the captains to ensure their teammates do not encroach upon and surround the referee, allowing direct conversations to take place in order that the decision be relayed in a timely and respectful manner.

Importantly, we want only the captain from the team who wishes to discuss a decision to be able to approach the referee. It is the responsibility of the captain to ensure his teammates respect the referee, keep their distance and do not surround him. Any teammate ignoring his captain’s role and/or who approaches the referee showing any sign of disrespect or dissent will be shown a yellow card. Evidently, if the captain is a goalkeeper, there will need to be an outfield player nominated who can fulfil this role should an incident occur at the opposite end of the pitch.

UEFA launched the Be a Referee! campaign in 2023

Officials will be encouraged to be open in their discussions with the captains to foster a healthy atmosphere between all parties. This will allow them to build significant amounts of trust with players and show the kind of leadership required from modern officials in action. UEFA’s team of refereeing specialists and, where possible, a tournament referee will meet with each of the 24 squads to discuss this in further detail and share this information with players.

Embracing this approach and empowering referees will lead to an increase in the already very high quality of officiating in our competitions and better matches for players and fans to enjoy during the tournament. If we can facilitate constructive dialogue between referees and team captains everyone will benefit, and we will leave a positive legacy for the future of the beautiful game. The game we all love.

Roberto Rosetti, UEFA managing director of refereeing