Warsaw: Players who gang up on match officials to contest decisions at Euro 2012 can expect a tough reaction, refereeing icon Pierluigi Collina warned on Wednesday.
"This is not good for the image of the match, for the image of football. Respect means also respecting referees," said the Italian, best known for his hard stare and bald head, who hung up his whistle in 2005 and is now UEFA's chief refereeing officer.
"So players will be informed that mobbing is not allowed, and a referee knows that if they are surrounded by players, some yellow cards, one or more, are to be expected," he told reporters at a training session in Warsaw, capital of Euro 2012 co-host Poland.
Collina said that players would also be given short shrift for piling into a dispute with their opponents.
"This is something that we want to ban from the field. We don't want to have 20 players in a mass confrontation. Players are aware, because this is something that is not new, that if a mass confrontation occurs on the field of play, at least two yellow cards will be given to the initiators of the mass confrontation," he underlined.
A total of 80 match officials tapped by UEFA for the European championships in Poland and Ukraine are spending a week in Warsaw - including the 12 referees, from England, France, Germany, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
Collina said they were undergoing fitness tests and intensive workshops on the theory and practice of refereeing, to help make the right decisions on the day, notably over tackles.
"One of the main goals to be achieved on the pitch is to protect the players. Respect also means protecting players. We reminded the referees to be very, very careful in dealing with challenges that could create problems, that could endanger the safety of a player," he said.
At Euro 2012, which kicks off on June 8, UEFA will continue its experiment of having six officials in a drive to deal with disputed decisions.
Adding two extra linesmen, plus a standby, to the traditional trio of a referee and two linesmen has proven its mettle over two Champions League seasons and three in the Europa League, Collina noted.
"It is clear that many good decisions were taken on the field of play," he said.
Asked whether he supported calls to use video to resolve contentious decisions - something rejected by football's governing bodies on the grounds of disrupting the game's flow, despite it being a success in tennis, cricket and rugby - he said the extra officials seemed a better solution for now.
The names of all the officials for the first 12 matches - half of the group stage - will only be made public three days before Euro 2012 starts.
On the basis of their performance, they will be allotted games for the rest of the group stage, while ongoing assessments will decide who oversees the quarter- and semi-finals, and the final.