Keith Hackett column: English refs on form at Euro 2020 and it is great to see divers are not conning anyone

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It’s completely refreshing to see that the refereeing standards in the main during Euro 2020 have been terrific.  

Indeed, what a delight it’s been to see two English Premier League referees, Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor, at the top of their game. 

In my opinion, they are enjoying the clear direction from UEFA’s Head of Referees, Roberto Rossetti, who should be applauded for his management.  

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All of the 18 referees for this tournament are fit and mobile and, as a result, have no problem keeping up with play. 

With confident and positive body language to boot, they have all shown a willingness to remain calm when dealing with situations causing conflict. 

It’s evident that there has been good communication between the referee and players, and they’ve not jumped in with early yellow cards either and that’s been good to see. 

To that end, respect has been duly earned.

Keith Hackett
Former Premier League and FIFA referee Keith Hackett is a columnist for

But VAR has been the biggest positive in the tournament so far.

The commentary has been about players, tactics and the wonderful skills on show in this tournament – and NOT referees. How refreshing for the image of the game!

On another note, the laws of the game highlight that simulation (diving) is an offence that should be sanctioned with a yellow card, and for far too long now, we’ve witnessed players from around the world diving in order to gain an unfair advantage over the opposition.

Officials are also aware that attacking players will often repeat their actions when close to the opposition penalty box, which invariably means a free-kick and direct shot on goal. 

Forwards are good at trailing a leg and then using their foot in a ‘hooking action’ to manufacture contact. 

Such actions are very difficult for the referee to detect, and last season in the Premier League for example, we witnessed Sterling, Grealish, Salah and Zaha regularly drawing that contact from a defender and going to ground. 

On many occasions we have seen the referees point to the penalty spot, so it’s therefore refreshing to see referees in the European Championship simply ignoring players who go to ground. 

Where the referee is in no doubt that a player has dived, then out comes the yellow card.

This action by the referees has improved game flow throughout the tournament and produced fewer stoppages. 

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