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Final Report on UEFA Referee Career Study

Viridis1886

That doesn't matter. It's still a foul!
Level 5 Referee
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Dear European Referees,

I am pleased to inform you that we have completed the research for the UEFA Academy, for which you participated in the survey:

"Analysis of the Key Factors Influencing the Beginning and Continuation of Football Referees’ Careers in Europe: Improving Recruitment and Retention."

The final report was presented this week and has been fully accepted by the UEFA jury.

We want to thank you for your contribution and are delighted to share the final version of the study with you.

You can access it at the following URL: https://uefaacademy.com/wp-content/...P_Ignacio-Aliende-Tom-Webb_Final-report-1.pdf
 
A&H International

Executive Summary​

This study aimed to identify and define key variables that influence referees’ decisions to continue or leave their careers in England, Spain and Italy. The research focused on obtaining a practical and working understanding of the careers of referees in Europe across the three countries, to help inform the policies of the federations/associations.
Surveys were designed and administered in England, Spain and Italy with the aim of exploring general patterns, similarities and differences across the three federations/associations. In addition, causations between independent and dependent variables estimated by means of exploratory tests were investigated, with the design and analysis informed by the theoretical framework and relevant publications in the subject area. Highlights and key findings from the research are presented below:
  • The survey was completed by a total of 8,728 referees, comprising 1,779 in England, 2,036 in Spain, and 4,913 in Italy, evidencing substantial reach and interest in this project.
  • The three countries share important areas of agreement in understanding referees' activity, along with specific circumstances that need to be addressed locally within each country. While the main reasons to start and to continue in refereeing are similar, there is no common pattern for the reasons why referees leave officiating. 'Aggression' and 'Physical condition' are most prevalent in England, 'Disappointment' and 'Personal incompatibility' in Spain, and 'Remuneration' and 'Professional incompatibility' are the primary reasons in Italy.
  • The sample from England has a higher average start age (33.15) with a more altruistic profile – more focused on the social aspects of refereeing. Whereas Spain and Italy show a more competitive profile focused on advancement, with both also showing a lower average start age (18.86, 19.06) from their samples.
  • The proportion of referees who officiate in each country, but who are born outside the three countries (5%) is lower than the proportion evident in the wider population.
  • There is a high percentage of referees who have experienced threats (63%), which influences their decision to continue refereeing. Additionally, 16% mention aggressions as a risk to leave refereeing, and 13% of the referees who are no longer in refereeing mention aggression as the cause of their dropout.
  • A significant portion of referees (36%) express an interest in participating in development programs but have not had the opportunity. However, the impact of these programs on referee progression is not clear.
  • Half of the referees in the total sample consider reasons for continuing different from the practice of refereeing itself (see Table 13), suggesting potential for establishing alternative career paths or positionswithin federations/association.
  • Traditional reasons for starting refereeing (Table 15) remain relevant for informing recruitment, although only prior experience as a coach or player show a positive determination on the speed of referee promotion.
  • A significant proportion of referees who have left the game feel that their federations/associations could have done more to retain them (59%). Individual career follow-up and monitoring have been identified as areas for improvement for federations/associations when focusing on retaining their referees.
  • Women demonstrate a faster rate of promotion when compared to men. The targeted increase in recruiting women referees highlights their ability to integrate effectively into existing pathways and also the success of the pathways that are aimed primarily at women referees
 
I figured! I'm just the sort of person that loves detail so I decided to read the whole thing. I don't remember most of it 😂
 
Even without exec summaries, it is easy these days. Just open the document and ask Copilot to summarise it, took 30 seconds to generate the summary below..


Here’s a summary of Part 1 of the document:
  • Study Aim: The research aimed to identify factors influencing football referees’ decisions to continue or leave their careers in England, Spain, and Italy.
  • Key Findings: Shared reasons for starting and continuing refereeing; distinct patterns for leaving. Aggression and physical condition are significant in England, disappointment and personal incompatibility in Spain, and remuneration and professional incompatibility in Italy.
  • Demographics: England has older referees with a social focus, while Spain and Italy have younger referees with a competitive focus.
  • Challenges: High percentage of referees experienced threats, influencing their decision to continue4. There is interest in development programs, but their impact on progression is unclear.\

Part 2 of the current page discusses the career progression and challenges faced by football referees in Europe. Here are the key takeaways:
  • Career Duration: Referees’ careers vary in length, with some staying for just a few seasons and others for over 20 years.
  • Reasons to Leave: Factors like aggression, physical condition, and dissatisfaction with federation responses contribute to referees’ decisions to leave.
  • Influences to Start: Family, friends, and a personal vocation for refereeing are significant influences for individuals to start refereeing.
  • Threats and Development: Many referees experience physical threats, and participation in development programs influences their career progression.
These insights are crucial for federations to adapt policies and support referees effectively.

Part 3 of the current page discusses the Beginning and Continuation of Referees’ Careers in Europe. Here are the key takeaways:
  • Research Focus: It examines factors influencing the start and continuation of football referees’ careers in Europe, aiming to improve recruitment and retention.
  • Survey Details: An anonymous questionnaire is presented, targeting current or former football referees in England, Spain, or Italy.
  • Acknowledgments: Gratitude is expressed to various individuals and organizations, including UEFA and national federations, for their support in the study.
  • References: The section lists several academic references related to career development, referee experiences, and sport management.
This summary captures the essence of Part 3, focusing on the study’s purpose, methodology, and the support received.
 
Women demonstrate a faster rate of promotion when compared to men
Obviously expected. I'm against any form of discrimination +ve or -ve... Naturally, the same will be true for minority groups etc.
Merit Table non-adherence, or is it the observers who are discriminatory... or both?
 
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Obviously expected. I'm against any form of discrimination +ve or -ve... Naturally, the same will be true for minority groups etc.
Merit Table non-adherence, or is it the observers who are discriminatory... or both?
I get what you are saying, but putting it into context, there are normally considerably less female officials in the first place. As a result, they may well be promoting less females but it is more noticeable because it represents a greater proportion of the starting number, so it may not be positive discrimination. I completely agree with your point though!
 
Where I am, female gender gives you a much bigger chance of quality training (in our referee academy). It seems like all new female officials get a coveted place. I do understand this though. There are so few that to have a chance of getting female officials through to the highest levels we need numbers getting the best training.

And, age discrimination anyone? Having started at 39 I was openly told I was barred from the top 3 tiers of mens football here.
 
And, age discrimination anyone? Having started at 39 I was openly told I was barred from the top 3 tiers of mens football here.
That's bad, and in the UK, would actually be illegal (protected characteristics and all that). I do know what you mean though, I was one of the youngest on my course and my RDO and the tutors almost instantly started encouraging me to do all sorts with my career. Very evident that some prefer young officials.
 
Where I am, female gender gives you a much bigger chance of quality training (in our referee academy). It seems like all new female officials get a coveted place. I do understand this though. There are so few that to have a chance of getting female officials through to the highest levels we need numbers getting the best training.

And, age discrimination anyone? Having started at 39 I was openly told I was barred from the top 3 tiers of mens football here.
So, by all means, stick all the girls on CORE and give them every possible advantage. I wouldn't have a problem with that at all
But only promote on merit, otherwise we end up with female (or minority) officials refereeing at a level they're not suitable for, they lose respect and whole purpose of the exercise is defeated
There's no room for discrimination. It's as simple as that. Positive discrimination serves no purpose
WRT age, just cull the old folkies at the fitness test and get rid of those who may not pass the calliper test at the same time. However, tougher fitness tests would also cull the girls because men have a significant advantage in this respect. The L4 endurance test is too easy. Anyone who is seriously tested by it is not fit to Referee at Step 5
 
But only promote on merit, otherwise we end up with female (or minority) officials refereeing at a level they're not suitable for, they lose respect and whole purpose of the exercise is defeated
There's no room for discrimination. It's as simple as that. Positive discrimination serves no purpose
Merit, or merit tables??

Merit tables, as has been pointed out in other threads, unfortunately contain bias and discrimination, be that unconscious, or conscious.

It is widely believed that those in under represented groups are held back by these biases and discriminations, and whilst you or I might not hold these prejudices, sadly there are still lots of people that do, and even worse some that dont even know they are doing it. So what's the solution then?

We do need to progress under represented groups, because we know that encourages greater participation from within those groups, and with greater participation comes greater talent pools. You only have to look at the women's game to see how that works.
 
Even without extra training or development opportunities, I'd wager the women that go into refereeing is a smaller and more committed pool than the male pool, which will be wider and with mixed intentions for refereeing by comparison.
 
Merit tables, as has been pointed out in other threads, unfortunately contain bias and discrimination, be that unconscious, or conscious.
Yup, quite possible....
I would think +ve discrimination exists among the observing community (sub-conscious or societal pressure or pressure from the FA)
Maybe.... there's no discrimination when it comes to the FA and auto-promotion, but even then, a female or minority group ref could be selected from one geographical region to mask another (more deserving ref) from somewhere else being overlooked

It is widely believed that those in under represented groups are held back by these biases and discriminations, and whilst you or I might not hold these prejudices, sadly there are still lots of people that do, and even worse some that dont even know they are doing it. So what's the solution then?
That seems to contradict what you said first. I doubt this is much of a factor these days. There could be a minority of observers out there who are misogynistic or racist. I very much doubt however, that such -ve discrimination is anywhere near as prevalent as favouring the same groups

We do need to progress under represented groups, because we know that encourages greater participation from within those groups, and with greater participation comes greater talent pools. You only have to look at the women's game to see how that works.
I'm not really bothered about what happens in the Women's game. I'm not remotely interested in refereeing on that pathway. I have no feelings about the women's game except to say that it may as well be a different sport that doesn't interest me. It is however nice to have an alternative option for those who want to steer clear of the eye-watering behaviour witnessed at EVERY men's game. Promote who you like on that pathway as I don't care about it
 
Promote who you like on that pathway as I don't care about it
Plenty of people who do though! I know I'm interested in that pathway purely because you can get to a higher level than the men's game in less time. I'm not overly bothered about status, but I do like the idea.
 
Plenty of people who do though! I know I'm interested in that pathway purely because you can get to a higher level than the men's game in less time. I'm not overly bothered about status, but I do like the idea.
It's a higher Level but not really. Some Step 5 goalkeepers would walk straight into a women's National Side and I'd estimate the same about Step 4 outfield players. The tame nature of the women's game is what puts me off the most. I went to Wembley recently to watch England v Sweden and I'd have struggled to have enough material to write a Match Day Coaching Report as the game was so bereft of incident

Don't get me wrong, the kids really enjoyed the occasion and spectator behaviour was impeccable. A 'nice safe' environment to watch sport
Just not my cup of cha and not the demanding refereeing challenge that the men treat us to
 
Yup, quite possible....
I would think +ve discrimination exists among the observing community (sub-conscious or societal pressure or pressure from the FA)
Maybe.... there's no discrimination when it comes to the FA and auto-promotion, but even then, a female or minority group ref could be selected from one geographical region to mask another (more deserving ref) from somewhere else being overlooked


That seems to contradict what you said first. I doubt this is much of a factor these days. There could be a minority of observers out there who are misogynistic or racist. I very much doubt however, that such -ve discrimination is anywhere near as prevalent as favouring the same groups


I'm not really bothered about what happens in the Women's game. I'm not remotely interested in refereeing on that pathway. I have no feelings about the women's game except to say that it may as well be a different sport that doesn't interest me. It is however nice to have an alternative option for those who want to steer clear of the eye-watering behaviour witnessed at EVERY men's game. Promote who you like on that pathway as I don't care about it
Without getting into too much of a debate, these threads have a history of getting bogged down in back and forth.

There's no contradiction. My point was mainly that unconscious bias, a proven concept, is holding back, or at least has done in the past, those from minority groups within refereeing therefore disadvantaged by merit table compilations.

I didn't mean women's refereeing. Iesnt the women's game in general. Increase in participation (my point) has lead to greater talent pool and a better product, albeit not your cup of tea.
 
That's bad, and in the UK, would actually be illegal (protected characteristics and all that). I do know what you mean though, I was one of the youngest on my course and my RDO and the tutors almost instantly started encouraging me to do all sorts with my career. Very evident that some prefer young officials.
That continues once you start refereeing, and I'm actually fine with that. I'm 50 so far too late to make a career of it and not bothered by moving up the Steps either - I just wanted to keep improving at the level I referee at.

Whilst it can be slightly frustrating that as an older ref on youth football round our way you won't get any final appointments (unless last minute call up because of a late drop out), I totally understand why these opportunities go to those who are younger and might not be as competent now but have the chance and ability to go on to much bigger and better things and are going to improve quickly. And if it really bothered me that much I could start doing more OA games!
 
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