Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Standard Is Set, Now the Players Will Have to Do It by Book; THE AGENDA: English Leagues Learn from Euro 2016 an Initiative by the Premier League, Football League and Football Association Will Be Welcome If It Keeps Up the Good Work of the Summer, Writes Stuart Rayner

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Standard Is Set, Now the Players Will Have to Do It by Book; THE AGENDA: English Leagues Learn from Euro 2016 an Initiative by the Premier League, Football League and Football Association Will Be Welcome If It Keeps Up the Good Work of the Summer, Writes Stuart Rayner

Article excerpt

THE football may not have been up to much, but in one aspect at least, it was a very good European Championships. The standard of refereeing was very good. So were the people running the line. Okay, those officials stood behind the goalline often came across as chocolate teapots but they were a Michel Platini baby, so now he is off the scene hopefully that idea will be quietly put to bed pretty soon.

Now England is trying to play catch-up.

The Premier League, Football League and Football Association have got their heads together to ask officials to take a stronger line with player misbehaviour. It has been a real problem for some time now, and not one they have been turning a blind eye to. The Respect campaign was the most high-profile attempt to deal with it but really it has had no effect.

It must be tempting for those running English football to throw their arms up in the air in despair that nothing can be done to get spoilt, badly-brought up millionaires to behave themselves.

But it can be done. Euro 2016 showed it and the man who refereed the final (and the European Cup final) was English. We have good officials and now we have a good template.

Normally international tournaments start with a crack down on one area of concern or another, and a flurry of red cards. Not in France.

Only two players - Aleksandar Dragovic and Shane Duffy - were sent off in the whole competition. Two. That is remarkable.

But this was not a laissez faire tournament. Referees were strict.

The most refreshing aspect was the refusal of the officials to take any nonsense. If a player threw himself to the ground feigning injury - or even with a genuine problem that was not to the head - referees generally just got on with the game. Play carried on around them and more often than not they quickly got to their feet.

When referees thought there was play acting - something which infects English football as much as anywhere else nowadays - cards were issued, but when they were not sure, they just got on with it - and maybe waggled their tongues. As no free-kick had been given and play had not been stopped, there was no advantage gained. …

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