1st Edition

Elite Soccer Referees Officiating in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A

By Tom Webb Copyright 2017
    262 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    262 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Soccer is undeniably the most popular sport in the world. While we know much about its high-profile players and their increasing wealth and global influence, we know little about referees and the ways in which refereeing has changed throughout the history of the sport.

    This book provides an in-depth exploration of the evolution of the match official. It presents a comparative analysis of elite Association football referees in England, Spain and Italy, as well as offering insights into the involvement of UEFA and FIFA in referee training. Drawing on archive material, the book documents the historical development of refereeing and sheds new light on the practice of elite refereeing in the present day. Including exclusive interviews with elite and ex-elite referees, as well as with professional soccer managers and members of the broadcast media, it considers the current role of match officials and the challenges and controversies they encounter.

    Elite Soccer Referees: Officiating in the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A is fascinating reading for all students and scholars with an interest in soccer, sport history, sport policy, sport management and the sociology of sport.


    1. From Umpire to Referee: The Early Development of Officiating in Association Football

    2. Beyond Amateruism: The Emergence of Refereeing as a Profession

    3. Governing the Referee: Training, Assessment and Organisation

    4. 21st Century Refereeing: Structures, Management and Preparation of Officials

    5. Refereeing in England, Spain and Italy: Cross-Cultural Comparisons

    6. UEFA and FIFA on the Uniformity of Refereeing Standards

    7. In the Spotlight: Media Reporting and Its Consequences

    8. Referees’ Performance: Practices and Problems

    9. Raising Standards and Reducing Differences: Policy Issues

    10. Future Directions for Elite Refereeing


    Tom Webb is a senior lecturer in sports management and development at the Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, UK

    "Always central to the development of football, referees have not been well served in scholarly treatments of the game. This book puts that right by offering an important and timely assessment of the training, management and assessment of referees at the highest levels of elite soccer in Europe. Its cross-cultural focus delivers fresh insights. Based on sound scholarship and an understanding of the range of problems facing twenty-first century refereeing, this is a thorough and up-to-date analysis. It will interest anyone studying sport as well as football fans more generally." - Matthew Taylor, Professor of History, International Centre for Sports History and Culture, De Montfort University, UK