Uefa have told their top referees to take strong action against dangerous tackles and mass confrontations when the Uefa Cup and Champions League resume this week and next, reports The Observer.
Referees attending the European governing body's annual mid-term meeting in Cyprus last week were left in no doubt that aggressive challenges deemed to threaten the safety of an opponent warrant a straight red card.
They were also asked to get tough on players in 'mob scenes' by acting quickly before trouble escalates and not hesitating to issue yellow cards - particularly to players who run a distance to get involved - and red cards in the event of any excessive physical contact.
"The referees are charged with a responsibility of protecting the players' safety. The players have got to feel safe on the field of play," said Hugh Dallas, the Scottish former World Cup referee who is now a Uefa instructor.
The illegal use of arms and elbows is also becoming 'more and more dangerous', according to Dallas.
Holding and pushing in the penalty area is an issue on which Uefa believe progress has been made - five penalties were given for this offence in the Champions League group stage - although the message was spelt out clearly once again in Cyprus: if the players ignore the first warning, then book them. The same goes for player misbehaviour in a defensive wall.