In preparation of EURO 2012, UEFA tasked Professor Werner Helsen (TopSportsLab) to develop a structured plan to prepare the selected elite referees for the 2012 Championship “and beyond”. The “excellence” plan included physical preparation, injury prevention and concentration training. Helsen has been involved in 4 FIFA World Cups and 4 European Championships. Today referees are prepared as “6-man referee teams”. They undergo an intensive, structured preparation plan.
In 2010 TopSportsLab were selected as preferred long term operational excellence partner for UEFA. Periodic performance screenings (and other training) are being organised with UEFA elite referees. Meetings are held with medical staff, national physical coaches and the elite referees to develop and agree individualised training schedules for the period ahead. Subsequently, daily training load data are being monitored and synchronised to TopSportsLab. The TopSportsLab application provides training prescriptions and injury risk profiles using its proprietary algorithms for performance and injury prediction.
Football has become a global industry with ever growing (economic and socio political) impact. In parallel to industry, governance standards are to be developed and aligned. The game is becoming increasingly demanding for referees, as speed increases and recovery times decrease; the right decisions are to be taken within split seconds. Increased alert is required towards the end of a match. Unlike other sports, football referees have little high-tech assistance. Therefore today’s elite referees require excellent physical and mental skills.
- Euro 2012 was a successful championship for refereeing; fit referees with sharp, consistent decision making
- Best practices are currently being institutionalised, e.g. dedicated pre-game warm-up areas for referee team
- An increasing number of countries introduce pass/no pass physical screenings for elite referee