Like it or not, referees can play a massive role at international tournaments (don't believe us? Just ask England fans old enough to remember any tournament before the 2018 World Cup). Euro 2020 will be no different, and your excitement for certain games may be stoked or tempered depending on who the person wearing black will be.
Here, we've put together a handy guide on the Euro 2020 match officials, and answered some other questions, such as how they get selected, whether VAR will be in use and when they will be officially announced.
When will they be announced?
The official list of referees, thought to be 18, was rumoured to be due out at the end of March 2021. However, given the busy football schedule - with domestic campaigns, European competition and World Cup qualifiers dovetailing throughout the spring - and the fact no final decision has yet been reached about where matches will be played, the announcement has been delayed until closer to the tournament.
The exact announcement date is currently unknown, although we can expect an update on that any day now.
Who are the likely candidates?
Felix Brych (Germany)
Ovidiu Hategan (Romania)
Szymon Marciniak (Poland)
Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Anthony Taylor (England)
Clement Turpin (France)
Cuynet Cakir (Turkey)
Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
The above 10 referees, all part of UEFA's Elite panel, seem almost certain to get the nod unless certain COVID-related stipulations prevent it. All are well-versed in VAR procedure - something which will be crucial the tournament (more on this below) - and have experience officiating at international tournaments and/or Champions League knockout ties.
Michael Oliver (England)
Carlos del Cerro Grande (Spain)
Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)
Felix Zwaye (Germany)
Alyaksey Kulbakow (Bulgaria)
Anastasios Sidiropoulos (Greece)
Sergei Karasev (Russia)
Soares Dias (Portugal)
Willie Collum (Scotland)
Benoit Bastien (France)
Daniele Orsato (Italy)
Another eight are expected and these will probably be selected from the above group. Precisely which ones get the honour will depend on a number of factors, which we have outlined below.
How are they chosen?
The criteria for selecting referees for the tournament is thus:
1. Experience hosting at a previous international tournament, such as a Euros or World Cup
2. A record of officiating high-profile Champions League and Europa League fixtures
3. Track record in domestic football (match performance, level of discipline, number of mistakes made)
3. Experience working with video assistance domestically
4. Languages spoken (a good grasp of English is a must)
5. Ability to control players and clearly explain decisions
6. How many referees from same nation already selected
UEFA Referees Committee chairman, Roberto Rosetti - a former referee who officiated at the 2010 World Cup - discussed the selection criteria in February this year.
“We’ll be looking at the performances of our first-category referees in view of the various duties required at the finals," he said. "Experience will obviously count as a criterion for our choices, but we’ll be closely monitoring everybody in the coming matches before taking our final decision."
Rosetti also offered advice to any referees hoping to force themselves into the reckoning before the announcement is made in the coming weeks.
“Take strong action in cases of mass confrontation between players on the field, as well as when you are being mobbed by players,” Rosetti said. The 57-year-old also highlighted the importance of consistent action in cases of holding, pushing and physical contact in the penalty area, especially at free-kicks and corners. The referees were advised to show understanding of the spirit of the game in taking decisions on potential handball situations in the area.
Will VAR be in use?
For the first time in competition history, video assistants will be on duty for every game. A unique VAR will be assigned to each of the 18 referees selected for the tournament, forming part of a four-strong team alongside the assistant refs and fourth official. In all, there will be 72 match officials overseeing matters… so best behaviour.
THREE LIONS SQUAD FourFourTwo writers pick who they'd take this summer
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