Steve Tongue's Euro Diary: Please don't interview players during matches

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The Independent Online

The Football Association's Respect campaign (the one that applies to Raggety-Arse Rovers on a Sunday morning but not Wayne Rooney yet) appears to have struck a chord with Uefa. The 10,000 media representatives here are being urged to abide by a code of "key principles", all beginning with the magic word. "Respect of officials" demands that media personnel and equipment must not "cause confusion" for them – like pointing out to the fourth official, perhaps, that the ball did not actually cross the line for the goal just awarded. "Respect of players/coaches" bans reporters from approaching those good people for interviews during play. Older hands may remember the days when the ITV and BBC were allowed to crawl in front of the touchline bench to ask managers for a few banalities during the FA Cup final, though not even those fiercely competitive rivals ventured as far as interviewing players during a match. It might have enlivened the duller games over the next month: "Cristiano, a word about that penalty you just put wide..."

Police fall fouL of law

Embarrassment for the local police in Geneva, who intended to enter into the spirit of the tournament by donning natty T-shirts and caps with the Euro 2008 logo. Unfortunately the supplier of 800 items neglected to obtain Uefa's permission and the plods were warned that they risked, er, falling foul of the law by infringing copyright.

Have a nice day, hooligans

Police in Basel, meanwhile, have weightier matters on their mind. They have sent a stern letter to known hooligans warning: "We know you as a person who in the realm of sporting events has not always abided by the rules. We want to point out emphatically that we will not tolerate any excesses or violence and that we will take action against any such events. We hope that we will only come across you in pleasing circumstances." Evening all.

The age of the webb

More on law-enforcers; whatever matches he is or is not assigned to over the next four weeks (beginning with Austria against Poland on Thursday), England's representative among the 12 tournament referees, Howard Webb, has time on his side. Still only 33 despite that well-receded hairline, Webb is by far the youngest of the anti-dirty dozen. The former Sheffield policeman is also the only full-time professional ref among a group that includes PR men, a psychologist, a travel agent and, in the case of Germany's Herbert Fandel, more soothingly after a hard day's yellow-carding, a pianist who is the director of a music school.

Devil of a job for piturca

Match officials are not the only men in black. When not in Romania's sponsored blue training coat, their coach, Victor Piturca, tends to dress all in black, has a car registration of 666 and is nicknamed "Satan" (rather worse than Manchester United players referring to Sir Alex Ferguson, only behind his back, as "Taggart"). All rather alarming for a man born not far from Dracula country, though possibly appropriate for the group of death.

Group of sudden death

And finally... that tightest of sections, or any other, could well become the group of sudden death. If, say, France and Italy draw their final match in Zurich on Tuesday week and cannot be separated by points, goal difference or goals scored, their respective positions inthe table will be settled – like the World Cup final – by a penalty shoot-out. Never too early to start practising those spot-kicks, boys.

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