There’s not long to wait now until Euro 2020 belatedly kicks off, with the eyes of the football world on proceedings over the next month or so.

The best that European football has to offer will be on show at various stadia across the continent, and that includes the officials.

In Part 2 of “A Referee’s View“, Jason Pettigrove once again spoke to legendary referee Keith Hackett about referee’s preparation for Euro 2020 and VAR at the tournament.


A recent UEFA Referees committee meeting in Nyon, that was headed by former Italian International referee, Roberto Rosetti, ensured that the 18 referees and 22 VAR officials present were left in no doubt as to what is expected of them at the tournament.

Interestingly, at that meeting, the officials were informed that they would be operating the new 2021/22 Laws of the Game. Whilst the new Laws don’t officially come into effect until July 1, the IFAB (International Football Association Board) do allow for certain competitions to introduce it earlier, and UEFA have taken advantage of that decision.

The main change that the officials will have been advised about is a further attempt to clarify and operate the new handball law, only recently reviewed and revised at a March IFAB annual meeting.

Whilst much of the handball law will remain the same as presently, the new Laws state that:


Accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence.

Laws Of The Game

Firm Action - Calmness - Control

Common sense prevails at last!

Rosetti also urged the referees to “stay calm and in control” in terms of their handling of players, particularly with regards to situations of mobbing and dissent.


We have clear proof from this season’s UEFA club competition knockout stages that if referees are calm and focused, they can send the right message to players – we’re seeing that when referees relax, the players react in a very positive way.

Roberto Rosetti

Personally, I’m delighted by the directives, which also include the need for referees to act firmly during the tournament when seeing holding and pushing offences in the penalty area.

UEFA’s technical refereeing guidelines in this event suggest that the expectation will be that strong action will follow as a result, and this will also be applied when reckless challenges and serious foul play which could endanger a player’s safety take place.

Rosetti was quite clear when he said that; “It’s crucial in this respect that referees act not only to protect players, but also to protect the spirit and image of the game. Everyone is on the same page as far as the uniform and consistent application of the laws are concerned in these areas.”

All 24 teams will be visited by refereeing groups ahead of the start of the tournament, and the various instructions and guidelines given to the match officials will be explained to them, as well as the emphasis placed upon players, coaches and team officials as to what is expected in return.

It’s worth pointing out that the presentations to the teams on law changes and refereeing guidelines in the run-up to EURO 2016 were a crucial factor in the overall positive conduct of players and coaches at that tournament in France.

UEFA have certainly taken a proactive step again, and this can only be good news for Euro 2020.

Euro 2020 and VAR

This is the one area that the officials must get right. The technology has been in place for long enough now, and no more excuses are acceptable.

It’s perhaps with that in mind that UEFA have made it very clear to the 22 VAR operators that will be based in Nyon that the objective is that they only intervene when a referee makes a clear and obvious mistake, or in cases of serious missed incidents.

Further, at each of the 51 matches throughout the tournament, the main video assistant referee (VAR) will be accompanied by an assistant video assistant referee (AVAR), and an offside video assistant referee.

The VAR is the leader of the team who will be the main point of contact with the referee, with the task of focusing on incidents.

The AVAR will concentrate on following the match, while the offside VAR will evaluate all potential offside situations.

The team will be accompanied by three operators, as well as a VAR support assistant who will act in a co-ordination capacity.

The VARs involvement in games will be carefully monitored and I have no doubt that Roberto Rossetti and his team of former FIFA referees will be reporting on the performances of the teams of officials.

It’s worth noting too that UEFA have made a point of publicising that they will be adopting a positive approach regarding the VAR operation and will deliver support as needed.

Theoretically, all the above should therefore ensure any VAR errors are kept to an absolute minimum and the spectacle isn’t spoilt, as many Premier League games have been throughout 2020/21.

Here’s hoping…

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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