euro2016, quarter-finals.jpg
Photograph: Pixabay.com / Gellinger

Pierluigi Collina plays the scene again: a brilliant pass from Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci across half of the field to Emanuele Giaccherini, who scores the opening goal against Belgium.

"You must know that," Collina says, drumming his fingers on the table as he explains the skills of the two Italy players.

UEFA referee commission chief Collina is showing Euro 2016 reporters how referees at the tournament are not only taught the latest rules of the game but also how the teams they officiate play.

For the first time in tournament history referees are being visited by two coaches, who show them key elements of team tactics such as long passes from Bonucci.

"We could not accept that a referee says after the game 'I didn't expect this or that to happen,'" says Collina, who was arguably the first true star referee during his career.

The so-called match preparations are seen as one reason why there have been hardly any arguments about officiating at the month-long tournament - true to the motto of Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers, who says the official has done everything right when people after a game wonder who the referee actually was.

There has so far been only one really controversial moment at Euro 2016, when Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a penalty from Spain's Sergio Ramos after moving well infront of the goalline.

"The keeper moved forward. It was not spotted by the referee's team. It was a mistake. Unfortunately it happens, but it was a mistake within a match that was refereed well," Collina says.

Euro 2016 has seen an average of 3.58 bookings per game, down from 4.04 after the same amount of games in 2012. Offside calls have been correct in 93.54 per cent of incidents, up from 90.28 four years ago.

"They have done a good job, there have been no major problems so far. But we shouldn't be happy prematurely, there are still seven games left," UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis says.

Twelve referees and their teams are left in France for the deciding stages while six have gone home.

Collina says that was not owing to poor performances but "rather for experience reasons. It was the first big tournament for many of them."

For some who remain, such as Germany's Felix Brych who officiates Thursday's quarter-final between Poland and Portugal, the showing of his national team will decide who will got the honour of being appointed for the July 10 final.

If Germany beat Italy on Saturday, Brych has to go home, and if Italy win that will end the tournament for Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli.

Latest news

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

Reformist Macron wins support of key centrist leader for French vote

France's reformist presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, got a boost on Wednesday when he picked up the support of a party leader whose centrist constituency played a pivotal role in the last two presidential elections.

Amnesty International warns of nationalist rhetoric and hate speech in Croatia

Croatia continues to have problems with discrimination against ethnic minorities and with freedom of the media, while heightened nationalist rhetoric and hate speech during election time contributed to growing ethnic intolerance and insecurity in the country, global human rights watchdog Amnesty International said in its annual report on the state of human rights in the world in 2016/2017.

Official assigned to Wilders' security team held by Dutch police

A security official assigned to protect Dutch far-right politician Geert Wilders is being held by police on suspicion of passing along classified information about the lawmaker to a Dutch-Moroccan crime gang.

100th anniversary of rescuing starving children marked

A special ceremony was held in Zagreb's Croatian National Theatre on Wednesday to mark the 100th anniversary of one of the greatest humanitarian undertakings in the history of the Croatian people which saved children in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina from famine in the last two years of World War I.

Italy's 'Red Thing' could make impact in election debut, polls show

Two polls conducted for RAI public broadcaster released Wednesday showed a new entity that split from Italy's ruling Democratic Party

Council: Nixing grants to "Novosti" would cause far-reaching implications

The Council for National Minorities, a state-level autonomous umbrella organisation for all ethnic minorities in Croatia, has stated that the cancellation of financial grants to the "Novosti", a newspaper of the ethnic Serb minority, would produce far-reaching implications and stir criticism for reduction of free speech and of freedom of expression of the most numerous ethnic minority.