Kim Milton Nielsen’s column: Euro 2016, domestic preparation and Italy’s green card

Kim Milton Nielsen’s column: Euro 2016, domestic preparation and Italy’s green card

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    Kim Milton Nielsen

    The battle to officiate in France

    It appears that the 2016 European Championships will be deprived either of Mark Clattenburg or Martin Atkinson, which, in my opinion, is a great pity.

    Of course Mark has a Champions League semi-final between Bayern Munich and Barcelona to his name while Martin successfully took charge of last season’s Europa League final – Sevilla versus FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

    They both have so much experience, including so many international qualifiers, and it is a credit to the English that they have such talented representatives in contention, but if I had to give anyone the edge for France next summer it would be Martin, simpler because he is older!

    Maybe the decision between them will come down to UEFA policy on age, I don’t know, but it is certainly a shame for them and for football that one of them will inevitably be disappointed.

    Match preparation in the Danish Superliga 

    Last month I talked about how I used to prepare for European fixtures. The main difference with refereeing at home, because Denmark is such a small country, was the need only to be at the ground one hour and a half before kick-off.

    Read more: Social media and international preparation

    It also means there are only relatively few referees and assistants who are used to working together at the highest level.

    Therefore, the officials would normally have met many times before in these domestic fixtures, but if there was an assistant appointed who was new to me I would give him a call a few days beforehand and agree with him what was expected both on and off the pitch.

    This would usually consist of a fairly predictable list and my routine would never vary too much. In fact, I felt it was possible for a team to get too comfortable, and although this did not lead to any major errors that I need to get off my chest, there were a couple of occasions when I felt familiarity between officials actually made the job more difficult.

    On the other hand, there were those times when I felt an assistant wanted more influence than usual and that is when I felt a warning was appropriate before kick-off. This only meant that I told them to be careful out there, and it usually worked out.

    While I prided myself on my ability to focus entirely once the game had kicked off, I must confess that I did spend one game worrying if I had the right trousers back in the dressing room!

    My last words just as we left the dressing room for the tunnel were always the same, however, whatever the occasion: “Now we are in charge, let’s show them we are the best.”

    Show the green card the red card

    The green card proposal for Italy’s Serie B is not the first time I have come across this attempt to reward players for good behaviour, but is it really such a good idea at all?

    Read more: Green card to be introduced to Serie B

    At the annual Gothia youth tournament held in Gothenburg, Sweden, a similar system was put in place last summer to promote fair play, which also caused some fuss for the media.

    If you ask me, it’s all very well when it’s done in the name of having some fun in a summer tournament like this, but when it comes to the serious business of professional football, wherever it is played in the world, I’d say forget it.

    Let’s be honest: how many players do you know who, when the whistle blows, are interested in any prize other than winning?

    Vi ses (see you soon)

    Kim