Most football fans would agree that Euro 2000 provided a much-needed lift and gave us a highly entertaining tournament, with the welcome return of fans as well.
As we prepare for another domestic campaign, we’ve been looking at what the Premier League can take from a successful European Championship.
VAR Improvement Desperately Needed
I was one of the outspoken critics of VAR last season, calling for it to be scrapped as it was totally spoiling the enjoyment of the beautiful game.
The fans were frustrated, the players equally so and the managers were left pulling their hair out at decisions that saw goals ruled out for minuscule details, when the benefit of the doubt is supposed to go to the attacker.
Mainland Europe has had the advantage of using the system for longer and they have certainly got to grips with it better than the UK officials.
In the Euros, VAR decisions took no more than a minute to be made and, in general, they let the game flow and allowed the referee to make the majority of the calls.
I’m still not totally sold on the system, but it was far better this summer and gives me hope that it can be used in the right way and not spoil the brilliant product that the Premier League produces.
Refs Allowing the Game to Flow
Granted they are the best referees in the continent, but the matches at Euro 2020 were allowed not the stop-start affairs that we often get in the Premier League.
The men in the middle seemed to pick up on most of the play acting and were not whistle happy, in my opinion allowing a fairer competition for all sides rather than favouring the best technical players.
Yes, they have to protect the entertaining, star players but they also need to give the opposition the chance to (fairly) stop them.
Too often the bigger clubs and star names are overly protected and at the drop of a hat, they are awarded a decision when any defensive player goes near them. That was not the case at Euro 2020 and I believe that made it a more interesting tournament.
No More Harsh Handballs
One of the new rules for the 2021-22 Premier League season was implemented at the Euros and that was regarding handball decisions.
An accidental handball in the build-up to a goal will no longer be deemed an offence, although it will still be an offence if an accidental handball scores the goal or immediately creates the chance.
Last season, handball decisions would be given at the drop of a hat, even when the ball was fired at a player from a yard away!
The law no longer specifies that particular positions are inherently ‘unnatural’, so the powers-that-be have removed the language of “the hand/arm is above/beyond shoulder level”.
Ultimately there will be more discretion given to the referee to make the judgement – refs, please don’t let us down!
*All odds correct at time of writing.