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Former referee Keith Hackett returns for another instalment of A Referee’s View. This time he joins Jason Pettigrove to discuss diving at Euro 2020.

For far too long now, we’ve witnessed players from around the world diving in order to gain an unfair advantage over the opposition.

The laws of the game highlight that simulation (diving) is an offence that should be sanctioned with a yellow card.

Players are clearly encouraged by coaches to go to ground inside the penalty area to win a penalty by deceiving the referee.

Officials are also aware that, when closer to the penalty area, attacking players will often repeat their actions. This will lead to a free-kick and direct shot on goal, which can be of benefit to their team.

These acts, at times, are very difficult for the referee to detect.

Diving at Euro 2020

Last season in the Premier League for example, we witnessed Sterling, Grealish, Salah and Zaha, to name a few, regularly penetrating the penalty area in possession of the ball before drawing that contact from a defender and going to ground.

Forwards are also good at trailing a leg and then using their foot in a ‘hooking action’ to manufacture contact.

On many occasions we have seen the referees point to the penalty spot fooled by the players actions.

Even in midfield, when two players come together, we have seen players screaming as though shot with some even holding their faces as though struck with a flailing arm or elbow.

It’s therefore refreshing to see referees in the European Championship simply ignoring players who go to ground, allowing play to continue and leaving the player to scramble to their feet slightly embarrassed.

Where the referee is in no doubt that a player has dived, then out comes the yellow card. This action by the referees has improved game flow throughout the tournament and produced less stoppages.

Refereeing Standards

Indeed, refereeing standards in the main thus far during Euro2020 have been terrific.

What a delight to see two English Premier League referees, Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor, delivering solid performances too.

It’s my opinion that both are enjoying the leadership and clear direction given by UEFA Head of Referees, Roberto Rossetti, who should be applauded for his management.

His group of eighteen referees for this tournament are fit, mobile and can deliver an explosive sprint in seconds to maintain contact with the game.

Their body language is confident and positive, and they have all shown a willingness to remain calm when dealing with situations causing conflict.

Good communication between referee and players is evident, with respect being earned by the officials. They’ve not jumped in with early yellow cards either and that’s been good to see.

Perhaps the biggest positive in the tournament so far, however, is how VAR has been operating.

VAR protocol has been adhered to with ‘clear and obvious’ ringing in every VAR operator’s ear.

That we are listening to commentary about players, tactics and the wonderful skills on show in this tournament – and NOT referees –  is refreshing and great for the image of the game.

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