ZURICH (Reuters) - Former World Cup final referee Pierluigi Collina has stepped down as UEFA’s refereeing boss after eight years for personal reasons, European soccer’s governing body said on Wednesday.
The shaven-headed Italian is also head of FIFA’s refereeing committee, where he has been a firm supporter of the video assistant referee (VAR) system which was used at the World Cup for the first time this year.
UEFA, on the other hand, has decided not to use VAR during this season’s Champions League, with its president Aleksander Ceferin saying the new technology still needs more time to be developed.
There was no suggestion, however, that UEFA’s refusal to use VAR was behind Collina’s decision step down from his role.
“Pierluigi brought the same vision, understanding and flair to his role at UEFA that he demonstrated in the matches he refereed,” said Ceferin in a UEFA statement.
UEFA said that Collina, who retired from officiating in 2005 after a career in which he refereed the 1999 Champions League final and 2002 World Cup final, achieved major advances in the professional handling of referees.
Under his leadership, UEFA also developed programmes to improve referees’ technical, fitness and nutrition standards and ensure that knowledge of teams and tactics became part of the their preparation for every match.
UEFA said that Collina would be replaced by fellow Italian Roberto Rosetti, who oversaw the implementation of VAR for the World Cup.
“UEFA has led the way in referee development in recent years and I am looking forward to the challenge of continuing and enhancing that progress,” said Rosetti.
Rosetti, 50, was an international referee for eight years until his retirement in 2010.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis