UEFA's summer gathering of top European referees brought praise for the quality of officiating at UEFA EURO 2016, with officials urged to set an even higher benchmark during the coming season.
The impressive refereeing performances at UEFA EURO 2016 reflected the quality of refereeing throughout Europe – and the new 2016/17 season gives referee teams across the continent an opportunity to raise the bar even higher.
Seventy-six top male referees – including the 18 EURO officials – and 16 leading female officials have been in Nyon this week for the annual UEFA summer gathering, which served as preparation for the new campaign, as well as an opportunity to review the recent past, including the month-long EURO tournament in France.
"I think the EURO referees, the assistant referees and additional assistant referees all deserve congratulations," UEFA chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina told the officials. "Everyone agreed that the standard of refereeing was excellent. The level at EURO 2012 was already high, but the 2016 referees took the level even higher."
The EURO referee teams were prepared thoroughly by UEFA and its referees committee, with a pre-EURO workshop and stringent fitness checks while clear instructions on decision-making and interpretation of the laws were also conveyed to the players and coaches of the 24 teams in meetings ahead of the tournament kick-off. In addition, match analysts were deployed in France to brief the referees about the tactics and player characteristics of the teams that they were officiating.
Collina reflected that the positive refereeing result from EURO 2016 did not come by chance. "There were a number of reasons," he said. "UEFA's organisation was key to positive performance, and preparation was excellent. Commitment was also very high – the referees worked hard, and the results were clear to see.
"The EURO referees were a winning team – and their quality reflects on all European referees, including all those taking charge of matches at lower levels."
UEFA Referees Committee chairman Ángel María Villar Llona expressed similar views: "I always say that all of the actors have to be good for a tournament to be good – and the EURO referee teams did a fantastic job. Now, this is behind us, and we look forward to a new season. I ask the referees to be consistent, determined and ready to cope with the pressures on them."
Europe's top male referees are readying themselves for assignments in the major UEFA club competitions and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, while the female officials are looking ahead to the UEFA Women's Champions League season and UEFA Women's EURO 2017 in the Netherlands next summer.
This week's agenda in Nyon included a fitness test, discussions and feedback, and further examination of the changes in the Laws of the Game that came into force at EURO 2016. Analysis of video clips from UEFA matches aimed to help improve consistency in interpretation of the laws and decision-making, and the spotlight also fell on the tactical preparations that provide crucial pre-match information to modern referees.
There were also practical on-field demonstrations of the goal-line technology system implemented by UEFA for the first time at last season's club finals and the EURO, which will be deployed in this season's UEFA Champions League from the play-offs onwards.