UEFA's refereeing activities have been keeping apace with the demands placed on the men and women in the middle who are responsible for running the action on the field.
In conjunction with its 53 member associations, UEFA takes great care in nurturing the European refereeing sector – fostering the elite and up-and-coming referees, and ensuring that newcomers to the UEFA list are given the proper instructions for their duties.
The UEFA Referees Committee, aided by the UEFA refereeing unit at the body's headquarters in Nyon, western Switzerland, deals with all matters concerning refereeing.
The UEFA Convention on Referee Education and Organisation, which now has 49 associations as full members and one as a partial member, aims to enhance referee education, promoting the role of the referee and improving refereeing structures and development within Europe.
In the 2009/10 season, UEFA Europa League matches were officiated, as part of an experiment, by six match officials – the referee, two assistants and fourth official were joined by two additional assistant referees positioned alongside each goal, with the particular brief to watch for penalty-area incidents.
Following a decision by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in July 2010, the trial continued at matches in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in the 2010/11 and 2011/12 seasons. It was also deployed at the UEFA Super Cup in 2011, and additional assistants were used at UEFA EURO 2012. On 5 July 2012, the IFAB unanimously agreed that the use of two additional assistant referees be approved, acknowledging the support they can provide in officiating matches.
From summer 2010, young European match officials have been given further invaluable support by through the UEFA Centre of Refereeing Excellence (CORE). The central objective is to develop the technical skills and fitness of promising young referees and assistant referees who show the potential to become future international match officials.