Champions League refs told to punish ‘acts of simulation’

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Champions League referees must be tougher with players who exaggerate contact trying to get an opponent shown a yellow card, UEFA said Friday.

UEFA wants to punish attempts to “dupe” referees with “acts of simulation or by over-reacting to light-contact fouls” when European club competition groups start next week.

“It represents unfair conduct by players against their colleagues — a bad example of disrespectful behavior,” UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti said in a statement.

Match officials were urged to be smart and show “fingertip feeling” when handling international games in Europe this season.

“It’s crucial for the referees to be able to read the game and understand the spirit of play in these situations,” said Rosetti, an Italian who refereed the 2008 European Championship final and games at the World Cup in 2006 and 2010.

UEFA also wants referees to crack down on players mobbing match officials to influence decisions and mass confrontations involving players and coaches.

“We are determined to protect the image of football,” Rosetti said, “and we consider certain types of behavior on the field and on the benches to be unacceptable.”

UEFA briefed its international match officials ahead of a season that will include national-team games in the Nations League this month and Euro 2024 qualifying games next year.

“We want our officials to stay humble, keep their feet on the ground, work hard, be disciplined, focus on targets, and be strong and respectful,” Rosetti said.

In Champions League games, referees will now be helped by Semi-Automated Offside Technology which judges tight calls using multiple cameras that track players’ limbs. The system will also be used by FIFA at the World Cup in Qatar this year.

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