As Euro 2024 kicks off, significant changes in refereeing and technology aim to provide clarity for players and spectators regarding VAR. All this, while maintaining zero tolerance for serious foul play and dissent. These changes were highlighted during a recent media briefing at Munich’s Allianz Stadium, ahead of the tournament’s opening match between host nation Germany and Scotland.

UEFA has implemented strict guidelines to ensure better communication and discipline on the field. Only team captains are now permitted to approach referees to discuss decisions. This rule, emphasized by UEFA’s managing director for refereeing, Roberto Rosetti, aims to maintain order and focus among players.

“Only the captain will approach the referee, the other players they have to think about [playing]. That’s it, finish,” he stated. Any player other than the captain showing signs of disrespect or dissent towards the referee will receive a yellow card.

In addition to maintaining on-field discipline, UEFA is protecting players and preserving the sport’s integrity. Dangerous tackles and serious foul play will be met with severe punishment. “One of the most important priorities in refereeing guidelines is to protect the players,” Rosetti explained. “To protect the image of the game, but in particular to protect the safety of the main actors of the games.”

Enhanced communication with fans

To improve transparency and understanding of refereeing decisions among fans, UEFA will broadcast detailed explanations of VAR decisions on stadium screens. This initiative is a response to ongoing debates about its application and the time taken for decisions.

Rosetti described this new approach: “We want to give, after the opinion of VAR, a technical explanation for the public. In live, simultaneously, the UEFA expert will prepare the explanation, a technical explanation about what happened in the specific situation.”

For example, if referees award a penalty for handball, there would be an explanation like the following.

“Germany number nine touched the ball with his left arm which was in an unnatural position above the shoulder and making his body bigger”.

This step aims to bridge the gap between the referees’ decisions and the fans’ understanding, enhancing the overall viewing experience.

Euro 2024 will see the integration of state-of-the-art technology to assist referees. The introduction of connected ball technology, featuring a chip inside Adidas match balls, will significantly aid VAR decisions.

These chips track touches 500 times per second, enabling VARs to quickly and accurately assess contentious handball decisions. This technology combines UEFA’s 10 specialist cameras at each venue, which tracks 29 body parts of players. Overall, both promise unprecedented precision in making offside calls and other critical decisions.

The detailed summaries of VAR rulings displayed in stadiums throughout the tournament set a new standard for communication with match-going fans. This move, if successful, could serve as a model for other leagues, including the English Premier League, which has faced criticism for leaving fans unclear on VAR decisions.

Ensuring fair play and consistency

UEFA’s approach to refereeing at Euro 2024 also involves rigorous pre-tournament briefings with all participating teams and their coaches. These sessions included 20 video clips demonstrating the application of the new guidelines. That reinforces the commitment to player safety and fair play.

England manager Gareth Southgate, for example, sought clarity on the directive against holding in the box at dead ball situations, an issue that arose during the Qatar World Cup.

Rosetti’s directives ensure that any tackle endangering a player’s health will earn a penalization, even if the player attempted to play the ball first. This zero-tolerance policy mitigates dangerous plays and maintains the sport’s integrity.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer