The opening ceremony of Euro 2020 brought back memories for me of standing in the middle of the field of play in Dusseldorf, to take charge of the opening game of Euro 88 – West Germany v Italy, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw.
Danny Makkelie, the Netherlands referee, was awarded this top honour and delivered a fine performance. I hope to see him appointed to another game later in the tournament as he is a contender to be awarded the final.
Two offside decisions caught my eye over the weekend, though.
In that opening game between Turkey and Italy I witnessed one of the most bizarre offside decisions I have seen in a long time.
Immediately from a corner kick, the flag was raised for offside and supported by a quick whistle.
The law is quite clear that you cannot be offside from a corner kick.
I was amazed that Makkelie was not alerted to this error by the VAR, and rather than over ruling his assistant, he supported the decision.
However, this should not detract from a fine performance of officiating overall and an outstanding win by Italy.
Then in the Netherlands vs Ukraine match, the second goal that was scored by the men in orange should have been ruled out for offside.
There was a Netherlands player standing in front of the goalkeeper clearly offside and interfering with the goalkeeper
With VAR in operation, I was disappointed that the clear and obvious error to award the goal by the referee did not see the VAR come in and rectify the decision.
The main talking point, however, was Christian Eriksen’s collapse in the Denmark vs Finland game after his heart stopped beating.
As a referee, you prepare for all sorts of eventualities before you set foot on a field: red cards, big penalty calls, controversial incidents which will test you to the limit – and, most important of all, protecting the safety and welfare of the players.
This is why England Referee, Anthony Taylor, was able to respond so professionally and calmly to the shocking events in Copenhagen on Saturday night.
On the morning of the match, Taylor and his fellow officials will have had a meeting organised by UEFA at the stadium, to run through the contingency plans for all sorts of emergencies.
Sat around the table would have been the match delegate, the UEFA-appointed ground controller, team representatives, the ambulance and police services.
Contingency plans are discussed in detail and these were operated very successfully. The life of a player was saved by the prompt action of the referee, players and the medical back up team.