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MARK CLATTENBURG: Sorry, but I wanted England knocked out at Euro 2016 so I’d get the final! Life as a ref at a major tournament is a bit of a rollercoaster… especially with Daily Mail photographers hanging around!

Here is a tip for any referees heading into Euro 2020 — if you’re going to have a beer on the eve of the tournament, then make sure there isn’t a Daily Mail photographer hanging around!

I was pictured by this newspaper leaving a bar at our pre-tournament training camp near Paris in 2016 and it raised one or two eyebrows.

Saying that, it didn’t do me any harm — I ended up refereeing the final! And what a feeling that was, coming on the back of the FA Cup and Champions League finals earlier that year.

I was pictured leaving a bar at our pre-Euro 2016 training camp, which raised eyebrows

I was pictured leaving a bar at our pre-Euro 2016 training camp, which raised eyebrows

But it didn't do me any harm, I ended up refereeing the final between Portugal and France

But it didn’t do me any harm, I ended up refereeing the final between Portugal and France

Our representatives this summer are Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor, and that is fair. They are the best from the Premier League, even if that group is getting weaker, not stronger.

But they will need a little bit of luck if they are to go far in the tournament — like I had five years ago. By that, I mean good fortune in both the matches you are refereeing and those elsewhere.

For starters, you need England eliminated as quickly as possible. I’m a big England fan and it will be nice to cheer them on this time because in 2016 I wanted them out to clear the way for me.

Taylor is one of the English referees at the Euros

Oliver is the other English official

Our representatives this summer are Michael Oliver (right) and Anthony Taylor (left)

Any referee from any country would be lying if they said otherwise — we’re all there to try to make the semis or the final.

I benefited when England lost to Iceland in the last 16, just like Howard Webb had done when he refereed the 2010 World Cup final after we were knocked out by Germany in the second round.

I also had Wales to worry about in 2016 as we weren’t allowed to referee the Home Nations and they made it to the last four! That was great for them but if they’d got to the final my dream would have been over.

So life as a referee at a major tournament is a bit of a rollercoaster — I was nearly crying when Wales beat Belgium in the quarter-final!


Here is some good news heading into the Euros — we should not be seeing goals disallowed when toenails and armpits are offside.  

UEFA have instructed the VAR to only show viewers their final lines when determining offside decisions. 

But those lines will be slightly thicker than those we see in the Premier League, giving you more tolerance so if it is not an obvious offside, the goal will stand. 

That is so much better for the game. Emotions run high at a major tournament, and you cannot have an entire nation waiting two or three minutes before celebrating a goal.

The other big change is the new handball law.

We will not see the VAR going back and disallowing goals when a team-mate of the scorer accidentally handles in the build-up. 

Also, the scorer will not be penalised unless his accidental handball leads directly to a goal, such as the ball dropping at his feet immediately before he scores, or it goes into the net via his hand or arm.

As for my own games, I managed to avoid any big controversies, which is key. If you make negative headlines then that’s you done — tournaments are brutal like that.

It’s about self-preservation and that changes your mindset. It’s not like the Premier League, where another game comes around the following weekend.

Even for referees, this is knockout football! Mess up and you’re going home.

The pressure is immense, and the fear of failure and humiliation is greater than ever.

I benefited when England lost to Iceland in the last 16 as we weren't allowed to referee the Home Nations

I benefited when England lost to Iceland in the last 16 as we weren’t allowed to referee the Home Nations

That is why, after my final in which Portugal beat France 1-0 in extra time, I was relieved just to get through it unscathed.

I don’t actually think I refereed very well that night, but that was me being picky with myself — to the rest of the world, it was fine.

Afterwards, we celebrated with a meal and a few beers with our wives in Paris — and there wasn’t a Daily Mail photographer in sight!


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