April 18, 2021

Refs told asking for player autographs ‘unacceptable’

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UEFA referees chief Roberto Rosetti has told match officials that asking for player autographs or their shirt is “simply unacceptable” and “a matter of dignity.”

It follows Octavian Sovre’s request for an autograph from Erling Haaland in the tunnel after Borussia Dortmund’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester City.

In an email seen by Sky Sports News, Rosetti urged officials to act “with dignity and professionalism.”

“You are responsible for your behaviour and that of your team members when on a UEFA mission,” Rosetti told the referees.

“UEFA has strived to get you respected as much as the players and you have helped with that by looking the part: athletic, commanding, respectful and professional.

“If you want to be respected as much as the players, why would you ask for their autograph or their shirt? Do they ask you for the same?

Erling Haaland scored his 19th goal of the Bundesliga season against Bayern Munich on Saturday
Image: Erling Haaland gave his autograph to linesman Octavian Sovre in the Champions League fixture between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund

“This is simply unacceptable, this is a matter of dignity and don’t forget about the number of TV cameras at UEFA matches – they catch everything.”

The Romanian FA told Sky Sports News Sovre requested the autograph to raise funds for an autism centre he helps with.

In the email, sent the day after the game and before this reasoning was made public, Rosetti also urged officials to avoid players and coaches to speak about decisions.

“You do not need to explain anything to the players or coaches after the match, even if you realise you have made a mistake on the pitch,” he said.

“Admit the mistake to your team and to the referee observer. Contact me about it if you wish but do not ask to see the coach after the match to explain or apologise for your mistake.”

Rosetti addressed the subject of interviews with journalists in the same correspondence.

“Remember what one of the former UEFA Referee Committee chairman once told us: the best media interview is the one you do not give,” he said.

“Don’t talk to journalists about matches you have just officiated at and finally, respect the timing. You cannot be late out of the dressing room.

“Take responsibility for your team and make sure they follow your lead and respect you. In the end it is you who will suffer most from poor behaviour by any member of your team.”