By CHRISTOPHER DAVIES
Pierluigi Collina has warned that referees have been instructed to adopt a zero tolerance attitude at Euro 2012.
Internationals of England, the Republic of Ireland and other finalists who play in the Barclays Premier League are used to a more lenient style of refereeing where too often bad tackles go unpunished but in Poland and Ukraine they can expect domestic-type challenges which endanger the safety of an opponent to be punished by a red card.
Collina, a member of the UEFA Referees Committee and, since 2010, the head of refereeing for the Football Federation of Ukraine, also warned that there can be no surrounding of a match official at the forthcoming European Championship.
He said: “One of our main objectives is to protect players and we have reminded them [referees] to resolve actions that may jeopardise the safety of an opponent. UEFA also does not want to see a referee surrounded by players who are protesting.
“This does not give a good image and [protesting players can] expect yellow cards. We do not want to see 20 players in a massive confrontation and the initiators will be shown yellow cards.”
The 31 games at the finals will each be handled by a referee (Howard Webb is England’s representative among the 12 specialist referees), two assistants (Michael Mullarky and Peter Kirkup) plus two additional assistant referees (Martin Atkinson and Mark Clattenburg) who will focus on penalty area incidents.
A representative of the UEFA Referees Committee will visit each of the 16 finalists before the tournament starts to ensure national coaches know what to expect and can pass the guidelines on to players. Collina said: “The instructions given to match officials will be exactly the same to make it easier for players and coaches. We would like the referees, coaches and players to speak the same language in terms of football and interpretation of law.”
He said the referees, selected in December, were chosen for their performances in major UEFA competitions over the past two years plus their experience.
The Italian, who refereed the 2002 World Cup final, said: “Euro 2012 is the most important competition for UEFA. We have to have all our officials prepared to have the best possible performance during competition. Athletes need not only top referees. Being fit is important and we are watching this very closely.”
A seminar in Warsaw comprised 16 hours of lectures on different subjects for the match officials who have what Collina called “a crucial role because their decisions can affect the outcome of the match.”
He added: “Referees are accustomed to handling big games in their countries. They are also prepared to face any pressure in the Champions League, the Europa League and World Cup. They are here because they deserve to be here and UEFA is sure that they will do a great job.”