Soon the end of the crowds around the referee? At Euro 2024, only captains will be able to interact with officials

A “classic” of football fields, the vehement crowds around the men in black, could become ancient history from Euro 2024

Soon the end of the crowds around the referee? At Euro 2024, only captains will be able to interact with officials

A “classic” of football fields, the vehement crowds around the men in black, could become ancient history from Euro 2024. The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) announced on Tuesday May 14 in a press release, that the referees of the international competition which will take place in Germany (from June 14 to July 14) will better explain their decisions, but that in return only the team captains will be authorized to discuss with them, under penalty of cards yellow for other players who seek to interfere in these exchanges.

“Explaining a decision when 22 players surround you” is “impossible”, especially when there are “200 to 250 decisions” per match, says the head of the referees committee within the European body, Roberto Rosetti, in the statement, ensuring that the behavior of players and coaches is an important issue for UEFA.

Also “we ask all teams to ensure that the captain is the only player who speaks to the referee. » Any player who exceeds the role of his captain or who approaches the referee to disrespect him or contest a decision will be warned. If the captain is a goalkeeper, “it will obviously be necessary to designate a field player to fulfill this role if an incident occurs at the end of the field”, further specifies the boss of European arbitration.

While controversies linked to refereeing have marred the season, UEFA wishes to "create a climate of trust" around the men and women behind the whistle, who are constantly overwhelmed with information in their earpieces by the video assistance at refereeing (VAR) or their assistant referees.

UEFA wants “more open” referees

“We want referees with a strong personality who make decisions – sometimes unpopular ones – and take responsibility for them on the pitch, but we also want them to be more open and explain what led them to certain decisions,” continues Roberto Rosetti, himself a former Italian international referee. But, therefore, with a single contact in front of them.

This approach, inspired by that practiced in rugby, has been under consideration at the International Football Federation (FIFA) since 2016. Football authorities hope that it will help improve the image of the game, regularly tarnished by the gatherings of players who, not always controlling their emotions, try to put pressure on the central referee. “This can lead to communication problems, and football can very quickly take a very negative turn, which, as everyone agrees, harms the image of our sport,” notes Roberto Rosetti in the press release. .

The day before UEFA's announcement, French football, for its part, began another revolution inspired by the oval ball in refereeing. The president of the French Football Federation, Philippe Diallo, confirmed on Monday, May 13, during the UNFP awards ceremony, that Ligue 1 referees will have sound systems during the 2024-2025 season, when they will consult the VAR images. A system already tested during the D1 Arkéma (women's) playoffs and which will also be implemented during the next Coupe de France final between PSG and Olympique Lyonnais, on May 25 in Lille. “This is an important development in the game. It will allow better communication with the public, to better understand decisions,” said the boss of French football, hoping for “much more fluidity, much more playing time and many more smiles on the field.”