MARK HALSEY: BETDAQ Euro 2020 ambassador and ex-Premier League referee Mark Halsey discusses the importance of England’s discipline, expected Euros controversy and the changes to refereeing he’d like to see brought in next season.

England’s discipline at Euro 2020

I think the only danger for England at Euro 2020 in terms of discipline, is with our players playing in the Premier League, they are physical players. What they’ve got to learn not to do is make that challenge at Euro 2020 this summer…

We saw Harry Maguire sent off a little while ago for England against Denmark in a Nations League game – he had two yellow cards in the first half. You just cannot afford to make those challenges in international football because you’re going to pick up a yellow card, and once you’re on a yellow card early, you’re in big trouble. So Gareth Southgate has really got to be strict with our discipline on the field of play. We’ve got to be careful with our physical challenges.

As for players Gareth should be worried about getting into trouble on the pitch, Jordan Henderson is very vocal. I’ve refereed him many times, Jordan Henderson. He likes to say a thing or two to you, so he’ll need to be careful…

England have been affected by major refereeing decisions in the past at major tournaments. If England had had VAR or goal-line technology in the past, like with Frank Lampard’s ghost goal at the 2010 World Cup, things could have been totally different for them. England then would have been awarded a goal. But we’ve now got all those things in place for Euro 2020, so if there is a major error then that is when VAR will get involved, and so there can be less excuses.

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Expect controversy at Euro 2020

The world will be watching these referees at Euro 2020. But when you’re refereeing big games, you don’t think about that, you just referee what’s in front of you. You are fully focused.

With the game as it is at the moment, there’s always going to be different interpretations of offsides and subjective calls on challenges and penalties. We have got a wide range of experienced referees refereeing in the Euros, but that doesn’t mean to say they are all inflammable. It’s down to humans and you cannot be always at your best week in, week out, especially in tournament football, so I do think we’ll see some controversy over the coming weeks – there’s no doubt about that. We see it in every tournament!

What we also see in every tournament is that they will always put in their best referee to oversee the opening game to, hopefully, bring it home safely without any contentious decisions, to help set the tone for the rest of the competition…

Changes for next season

One thing that’s annoying me at the moment is the offside law. I know Arsene Wenger is looking at trials in China where if any part of your body is onside then you’re not offside. In the Champions League, we don’t see these lines for the replays, they’re not too forensic. We’re seeing very, very marginal tight offsides, but we’re seeing goals given – it could be a toe nail or a heel.

Well in the Premier League they’re putting the lines down on replays, they’re moving the lines, and we’re having too many goals ruled out that shouldn’t be. I think what we should be doing is looking at it once, twice, if you can’t tell, that’s it. Take away the lines, just use the naked eye. If you can’t see within 15 seconds, normally when you’re looking at a TV, looking at replays, you can tell within the first or second replay whether that player is offside or not. So if it’s taking more than two replays, it’s a goal. I think we need to look at that next season in the Premier League. In the Euros I don’t think they’ll be too forensic in those sorts of situations.

Also, the fans are just as important as anybody else in football, as we’ve seen with this proposed Super League. Therefore I think everybody in football in the grounds next season need to be able to hear the conversation between VAR and Stockley Park so everybody knows what’s going on and why they came to a certain decision. They may not agree with it, but at least it gives people a chance to hear what’s going on and the reasons why they gave that decision.

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My European nightmare!

I had one game, a Europa League tie in Gothenburg, where I went out and about 20-25 minutes into the game, Sampdoria committed a reckless challenge… I went to caution the Sampdoria player and I’ve gone to my back pocket, my front pocket and then to the top pocket of my shirt and I’d forgotten my cards, I didn’t bring my cards with me! So I just went bang, put my arm up with an imaginary card quickly, and put it straight back down. I got away with it, the observer didn’t even notice I didn’t show a card. I got away with it. I went out in a Europa League game and totally forgot my cards, which was very unlike me!

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