UEFA Board calls for ‘firm’ discipline for players faking injury and less abuse of officials

April 24 – Some of European football’s most distinguished former players and coaches say VAR needs to become more “consistent, transparent and understandable” and that faking injury and the abuse of officials both need to be urgently addressed.

A meeting of the UEFA Board chaired by Portugal’s former Real Madrid and Inter Milan winger Luis Figo on Tuesday discussed officiating, coach and player behaviour towards match officials, timewasting and VAR.

The meeting included the likes of Eric Abidal, Rafael Benitez, Petr Cech, Rio Ferdinand, Jurgen Klinsmann, Juan Mata and Patrick Vieira.

The board – put together in 2023 to provide an independent voice on football-related matters – suggested a campaign led by key players should be launched to shed light on the unfairness of faking injuries to help eradicate it from the game.

“The Board consensually acknowledged that the behaviour of players and coaches towards match officials in several recent instances has become a critical issue and does not contribute positively to the good image of the game,” a UEFA statement said.

“The members are united in their belief that this issue needs to be addressed as firmly as possible. The Board concluded that it is important for coaches to set the example for their teams and for the mobbing of officials to be eliminated.

“Referees are an essential element of football and should be protected from all forms of abuse. What happens in the professional game has the power to influence the whole pyramid; recruiting and retaining referees is highly dependent on the positive examples set in competitions followed by millions of fans.

“It was agreed that a firm disciplinary approach is justified, but that it would also be advisable to improve the transparency of communication between match officials and coaches to inspire mutual understanding and respect.”

The board was keen for VAR to be improved as a tool for helping officials rather than hindering them, saying its intervention “should not be perceived as a negative judgement on referees themselves”.

UEFA’s comments come after a controversial weekend for video assistant referees in the Premier League.

Nottingham Forest have asked for the audio between officials from Sunday’s defeat at Everton to be released publicly, after they criticised VAR decisions on social media.

The Premier League said it was “extremely disappointed” by Forest’s social media post but it has led to more debate surrounding the technology.

Coventry City also had a late goal ruled out for a marginal offside by VAR during their epic FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United on Sunday.

Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1716032911labto1716032911ofdlr1716032911owedi1716032911sni@w1716032911ahsra1716032911w.wer1716032911dna1716032911