February 13 – In a rare intervention, UEFA have stepped in to order referees to provide greater protection to Europe’s top players during the knockout stages of the Champions League.
UEFA said in a statement that officials had been “urged to take proper sanctions against players who commit serious foul play or make reckless challenges that might injure an opponent and endanger a career.”
Several managers, not least Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola have been particularly vocal and UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina said: “We need to have players playing, so they must be protected on the field.”
“We do not want situations where a player’s future is put in doubt because of serious injury caused by a challenge, whether it is intentional, or is unintentional and the player making the challenge is taking a risk of causing injury.
“Players must understand that they have to respect their opponents and show the same positive behaviour to them that they would want to receive themselves.”
By contrast, UEFA have also advised officials to punish players who deny obvious goal-scoring opportunities and have criticised those who surround referees to put pressure on them.
Collina added: “When I see mobbing of a referee, it’s something that is not acceptable – this is not the message that we want the game to convey.”
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