June 10, 2016

Refereeing at EURO 2016: What's new?

Europe is looking forward to the EURO 2016 starting on Friday and probably some men in the UK are a little bit more excited than others as it is the first big test for some new parts of the Laws of the Game initiated by the IFAB some months ago. Let’s have a look on the probably most important changes as well as on some other novelties.

Technical Support

First, the good news: There will be no discussions about ghost goals. At this EURO, Goalline Technology will be used to support the referees in those millimetre-decisions. Well, many people will ask: “Then why are there still those “goal referees” standing at the goallines and doing nothing?!” – these Additional Assistant Referees are still deployed to help the referee with creating an additional view on situations in the penalty area.

Tactical Support

Apart from that, the 18 Referee Teams are supported on a tactical side as well. They receive special forms of briefings by football instructors that teach them in how the teams they are about to referee are playing, what strategies they are following, which players might be problematic etc.

New Laws of the Game

First of all, there are some new titles: Law 3 is called “The Players” from now on, the new title of Law 6 is “The Other Match Officials” and Law 10 is said to be “Determining the Outcome of a Match”. But of course these are not the really relevant changes for the game itself.

The probably most important change concerns some DOGSO offences inside the penalty area which can be punished with a caution only from now on. For issuing just a YC it is necessary to attempt to play the ball. If there are no chances to play the ball, it is still a sending-off – a circumstance that makes it quite subjective and difficult for the referee. Deliberate handballs denying a goal or a goal-scoring opportunity are still to be punished with a red card, as well as the offences holding, pushing and pulling. Of course same counts for serious foul play or violent conduct. It is likely to see the one or other DOGSO situation during the tournament that will probably be quite controversial.

Another change will be surely recognized in France concerning Law 5: In the future a player injured by a tackle that has been sanctioned with a disciplinary measure (reckless or serious foul play, YC or RC) can be quickly accessed by the medical support and is allowed stay on the field afterwards. In the past, they had to leave the pitch and so could not participate in the following free-kick or penalty kick scenario. On the other hand, it is again still subjective, what a quick treatment is and when a player has to leave the field anyway.

Maybe a change with some more relevance for amateur football than for the EURO concerns Law 3: From now on it is a direct free-kick if a substitute or a team official interferes with play. Furthermore the referee can award the goal if something or someone other than a player touches the ball as it goes into the goal and this touch had no impact on the defenders. And probably most amateur referees will be happy: From now on, the ball can be kicked into any direction at the kick-off.

Law 8 clarifies that the ball must clearly move to be in play for all restarts of play what makes some tricks at corner kicks more difficult, for example this one in the Premier League some years ago. There was a similar situation too involving Howard Webb at the World Cup 2014.

We also can assume some offside offences in France and indeed Law 11 has some changes too. The most relevant concerns the place a free-kick has to be taken: In future, the free-kick after an offside call has to be taken where the offence occurs, i.e. where the player became actively involved in play. This can also be the case if a player becomes active in his own half which was not possible so far. Furthermore it is clear now that the halfway line is ‘neutral’ regarding offside.

Finally there are also some changes for penalty kicks. In future, ‘illegal’ feinting is always punished with an indirect free-kick and – as before – with a caution. Furthermore goalkeepers will be cautioned if they are responsible for an infringement. And last but not least the IFAB also clarified when a penalty kick is over, in future such a goal definitely would be valid as the ball now must stop moving.
It is the biggest adaption of the Laws of the Game in history and we all can be excited how the EURO 2016 referees will deal with it. Hopefully they will not have to use one of their new possibilities: From now on the referee can send-off a player from his pre-match pitch inspection onwards.

Here you can find all the changes.

Correction! Previously, we reported that the punishment of attacking walls was part of the IFAB's changes to the Laws of the Game as well. This is not correct. While it is a UEFA-specific guideline given by Pierluigi Collina (reported in several forms of media, e.g. here in German), this is neither an IFAB-related guideline nor a part of the new Laws of the Game.


  1. So, it's the day. Dear readers of the blog, I hope you will enjoy this tournament, good luck to all your national teams, and let's hope for a fantastic show with excellent football and of course a high level of refereeing.

    1. Thanks for spending the time making these blogs!!

  2. I'm curious on this UEFA guideline of "attacking walls". Do you have a link or pointer to more information about it?

    1. Translate this German article into your language:

  3. I believe it's referring to setting up attacking walls in an offside position at FK's around the penalty area with the sole intention of blocking the view of the GK / opponent (i.e. to meet the offside, interfering with an opponent by obstructing the line vision of an opponent criteria).


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