How UEFA Chooses Referees for Champions League
It feels like forever, but it’s finally time for Champions League football again! This seems like a good time to talk about how the referees are chosen by UEFA not only for Champions League, but for Europa League, as well.
First of all, just like the clubs want to get into the Champions League, the top referees really want these appointments. It’s pretty much the pinnacle of refereeing, and in the years directly leading up to a World Cup, a tryout of sorts. Refereeing a Champions League final is pretty much second only to refereeing a World Cup final.
Europa League, which usually has more games, isn’t considered quite as much of a prize as Champions League, but it’s still a good place for up and coming referees to show their stuff.
UEFA considers referees not as individuals, but as teams of three. Obviously the center ref is the star of the show, but he may be held back by a shaky linesman. All three have to work as a strong unit to make the cut.
When deciding on the referees for a particular round, the UEFA administration’s Referee Unit and the UEFA Referees Committee take a number of things into account, including:
- Performance in previous matches
- Marks from referee observers
- Overall performance
- Home countries of the clubs and referee
Once all of those things are considered, UEFA administration prepares the preliminary proposal for that specific round. That’s then forwarded to the Referee Committee. They review and discuss it, and revise it if necessary. Once they approve, it’s considered the final list for the round.
For Champions League in particular, the referees’ names are kept secret. This is to keep them from having to deal with contact from the media or the clubs. The referees’ names are released two days before the match, sometimes literally while the referees are en route.
If you ever wondered (and I know you have), all of the referee’s expenses are paid by UEFA, not the home club. There is a “referee liaison” who greets the referee and makes sure he has everything he needs. This liaison is from the national referee committee of the home club’s country, but not from the home club itself.