NYON: In the week which sees the Champions League return with the initial second round ties Europe’s referees are being asked to play their part in protecting the game’s star players writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The order will delight Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola in particular after his recent complaints that his players were not being protected by England’s top officials.

Paris Saint-Germain are also likely to welcome the instruction ahead of their visit with Neymar to Real Madrid and Sergio Ramos on Wednesday.

A statement European federation UEFA said that officials had been “urged to take proper sanctions against players who commit serious foul play or make reckless challenges that might injure an opponent and endanger a career.”

UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Pierluigi Collina said: “We need to have players playing so they must be protected on the field.

“We do not want situations where a player’s future is put in doubt because of serious injury caused by a challenge, whether it is intentional, or is unintentional and the player making the challenge is taking a risk of causing injury.

“Players must understand that they have to respect their opponents and show the same positive behaviour to them that they would want to receive themselves.”

Referees will punish players who deny opponents an obvious goalscoring opportunity. They are also called upon not to tolerate mobbing by players to exert pressure on them, or any other type of provocation towards them.

Collina added: “When I see mobbing of a referee that is something that is not acceptable.”

Collina is hopeful that things are moving in a positive direction.

Players and coaches were commended for their overall behaviour at the finals of the 2016 European Championship in France after pre-tournament briefing visits referees committee members.