The experiment featuring two additional assistant referees – aimed at helping to facilitate the referees' decision-making process during a match – continues to gain positive feedback from within the European football family.
The UEFA Football Committee, chaired by Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) and comprising other distinguished former players, expressed its positive backing for the experiment at its latest meeting in Nyon this week. The experiment involving five match officials is being undertaken at fixtures in the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League on the proposal of the UEFA President Michel Platini, following the FIFA Executive Committee's approval at its meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, in the summer, and after previous experiments in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in autumn 2008.
Penalty area focus
In addition to the match referee and two assistant referees on the touchline, two extra assistants are placed behind the goalline, with the mission of focusing on incidents that happen in the penalty area, such as fouls or misconduct.
Benefits already clear
The committee agreed that the benefits of the experiment were already clear at this stage. In anticipation of final analyses, two extra pairs of eyes were already providing valuable assistance to referees and not only helping to minimise refereeing errors, especially in the penalty area, but also helping to improve players' conduct.
In other matters, the committee discussed efforts to improve players' behaviour on the field. The influence of the players' associations, the responsibility of coaches, and an overall sense of professional respect are felt to be aspects that can help bring about a situation whereby players conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.
Importance of national teams
The committee addressed the importance of national teams, who are the flag-bearers of a country's football style and identity. In the face of increased globalisation, it was felt that the national associations played a key role in maintaining national football identity, through national team promotion, player development and coach education programmes.
UEFA Football Committee
Chairman: Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
Deputy Chairman: Vitaly Mutko (Russia)
First Vice-Chairman: Pavel Cebanu (Moldova)
Second Vice-Chairman: Dejan Savićević (Montenegro)
Third Vice-Chairman: Grzegorz Lato (Poland)
Demetrio Albertini (Italy)
Revaz Arveladze (Georgia)
Miodrag Belodedici (Romania)
Zvonimir Boban (Croatia)
Ivan Ćurković (Serbia)
Fernando Hierro (Spain)
Julius Kvedaras (Lithuania)
Yordan Letchkov (Bulgaria)
Anton Ondruš (Slovakia)
Gordon Smith (Scotland)
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