A group of 34 male and 12 female officials from across Europe, who have earned their international badges through their performances at domestic level, have been prepared for this challenging new stage of their fledgling refereeing journey at the latest UEFA introductory course in Rome.
In addition to fitness training, practical sessions, discussion group work and learning the ropes about UEFA’s refereeing guidelines, the referees heard crystal clear words of wisdom from former international referees that were designed to give them the recipe for success and prime them for what UEFA expects from them as top match officials and representatives of European football both on and off the field.
‘Savour the honour’
In welcoming the new referees to their duties, UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti – who took charge of the UEFA EURO 2008 final between Spain and Germany in Vienna – encouraged them to savor the honor of joining the European refereeing family.
“This is one of the moments in your refereeing career that you’ll never forget – you should be proud,” he said.
“The facts prove that European referees are the best in the world. They’ve set very high standards. We must maintain these standards. You’re the best young referees in your country – now you’re starting fresh at UEFA level.”
Rosetti urged the referees to show dedication and strive for the heights on their refereeing pathway. “Learn more, do more, become more from today,” he reflected. “Think of the top referees – you have to learn from them and take the best from them if you want to emulate them in a few years’ time.”
“Aim for the highest peaks. But always remember that talent is not enough. You need strong motivation and dedication – you have to constantly ask yourself ‘do I want to get to the top?’ Work hard – when you see the referees who have reached the summit, you have to know that this is the result of the hard work that they’ve done.”
‘Believe in yourself’
Björn Kuipers is now a UEFA refereeing officer after a distinguished career that saw the Dutchman referee the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, two UEFA Europa League finals in 2013 and 2018, and the UEFA EURO 2020 final.
“You can’t reach the top without belief and trust in yourself,” he said. “Be strong, be courageous when you take decisions and show personality.”
“Be prepared in every single way – You can’t win if you’re not prepared – analyze the teams, playing systems, the key players. Learn to use body language as a skill. Look after your fitness – you’ll be respected if you look fit and strong. If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it – move on and close the door on the mistake.”
Kuipers emphasized that future success was in the referees’ hands. “You have to do your job with passion. You’re here because it’s your passion. Success is the result of hard work. Just do it…and if you do it, dreams really can come true.”
Ambassadors and diplomats
The course in Rome also gave UEFA the opportunity to remind the referees of their crucial role as both footballing ambassadors and diplomats, as well as the behavior that is expected from refereeing teams on their assignments.
Guest speaker David Elleray, a former international referee from England who took charge of important matches at home and abroad, explained to the referees that their responsibilities at international level were greater than in domestic football.
“International refereeing for UEFA is more than just 90 minutes,” he said. “You play an important role. You’re representing a senior organization and leading a team.”
Elleray advised the referees about the need for exemplary conduct when on a UEFA mission. “Anything that you do can be photographed and quickly put on the Internet,” he reflected. “You don’t know who is watching you and listening to you. Be careful who you talk to – and how you talk. Watch your bearing and appearance, especially at airports, because you will be noticed.”
“You’re expected to be someone with 100% honesty, someone who can be respected and trusted. Don’t tolerate anything that is dishonest, unethical, corrupt or dubious. Report it to UEFA to help eradicate corruption within football. Your integrity as a referee must never be in doubt.”