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Refs Share Credit For Tournament's Success
Guardian, June 30th, 2008 1:15PM
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Paul Wilson's only quibble with Euro 2008 is that too few people saw the games live because of the relatively small capacity of all but two of the stadiums. But the tournament should be remembered not just for the entertaining games and some unexpected results, but also for "an uncommonly low number of referee's whistles."
 
There has been no dominance of "over-fussy refereeing or too strict an adherence to edicts or new guidelines. There has not been a rash of red cards, barely a game has been distorted or devalued by insensitive refereeing and, for the most part, the players have proved restrained and responsible." While there may have been too many exaggerated injuries, "the tournament has not been plagued by diving, cheating or obvious foul play." One reason for the tournament's attacking football "is that the referees have not hogged the headlines for a change."
 
Criticism of referees by team coaches has been rare, "and has usually been desperate." There were some blatant mistakes, certainly, such as the penalty Germany's Philipp Lahm was denied against Turkey, but overall "it has been a refreshing change to be able to concentrate on the football instead of the fouls," with the tournament all the better for having passed with "barely a controversy to its name."

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