7 things you should know about referees

Football pitch

Do you know your Collina from your Merk? Referees are vital to the beautiful game and are there to enforce the rules ensuring that all players are safe and playing a fair game (even though there may have been a few controversial referees that haven’t in the past). Here at MFC, we’re going to give you the facts you should know about referees so that you can impress your friends and maybe even win a pub quiz. 

What is the role of a referee in football?

This one may sound simple, but there are a few responsibilities which referees have responsibility for that you may not know about. The primary responsibility of a referee is to enforce the Laws of the Game, which consists of 17 individual laws set by FIFA. 

Before a game starts, the referee is required to check that all the equipment for the game meets the standard requirement. They also have the responsibility of timekeeping for the match – if a match is postponed or abandoned it will be because the referee has decided. 

If a player is not acting responsibly or has committed a foul, the referee is in charge of disciplinary action. They are also responsible for any player who is hurt, and it is up to them whether medical treatment is allocated. If a player needs to be removed from the pitch, then the referee has to ensure that the game has stopped and only resumes once the player is removed.

You may already have known the above, but a fact that you may not know is that, once a game is finished, the referee has to provide appropriate authorities with a full report about the events of the match. This includes any disciplinary actions, medical treatment and altercations which may have occurred before, during or after the match has happened. 

How far does a referee run in a football match? 

Referees have to be involved with every part of the game, and it is recommended that they stay 20 yards close to the ball in order to make accurate decisions. As you can imagine, that means a lot of running around! But how far does a referee run in a football match? If a game is played to a full-time duration of 90 minutes, you can expect a referee to run six to eight miles. 

On average, a player will run seven miles, but they can stay in their allocated area, whereas referees have to stay close to the ball, which is constantly moving around the pitch. 

How much does a premier league referee earn? 

Being a premier league referee is a difficult job; you face constant scrutiny from fans, players and managers for every decision you make. So, how much do premier league referees get paid for their struggles? 

Premier League referees are salaried, so they receive a regular wage and then have match fees on top. Depending on experience, a premier league referee could expect to make £70,000. The basic salary for a premier league referee sits between £38,000 and £42,000 depending on their experience. They are then paid £1,150 per match on top. 

What happens if a referee scores a goal?

The referee counts as an active body on the pitch. With this in mind, if the ball hits the referee and deflects into the goal, then it still counts as an official goal. Law 9.2 – Ball in Play of the IFAB Laws state that: ‘The ball is in play at all other times when it touches a match official and when it rebounds off a goalpost, crossbar or corner flag post and remains on the field of play’.

However, if a fan from the stand ran on to the pitch and scored a goal, this would not count (so don’t get any ideas). 

How to become a football referee?

If you would like to become a football referee, you will need to take an official course – starting with a basic FA referee course. On this course, you will learn all of the basics of the game and refereeing, which includes fouls and misconducts, safeguarding and more. Once you pass this course, you will be able to take more advanced courses to develop your skills, and, along with experience, you can work your way up to officiate different league games. You must be over the age of 14 to take the course. 

Can a referee overrule VAR? 

Every penalty in the premier league is now automatically checked by VAR (video-assisted referee), so what are the official rules? Can a referee overrule VAR in other areas of the game? It all depends on which decision is being made. For objective decisions, such as the ball being out of play or being offside, the VAR will inform the referee who will then overturn any penalty which has been awarded. For subjective decisions, such as a handball or a foul, the VAR will assess the footage for a “clear and obvious error”, and then the referee will explain what he has seen. If the two accounts don’t match,  the VAR can recommend an overturn, but the final decision sits with the referee. 

What equipment does a referee need? 

The referee has a set of compulsory equipment that they need to have when officiating a game. These include: 

  • Whistle 
  • Watch 
  • Red and Yellow cards 
  • Notebook (or other means of recording the match) 

There is also a list of equipment which the referee is permitted to but is not compulsory for them to have. These include: 

  • Communication equipment for other match officials 
  • Fitness monitoring equipment 

Referees are not permitted to wear any jewellery or electronic equipment, including cameras. Now that you know everything there is to know about referees, you should watch some in action! Browse through the range of DVDs and Books where you can watch and read about some of the greatest moments in MFC history, including all of the highs and all of the lows.

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