Referee (sport)

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A referee (also director or umpire colloquially or referee is called) an impartial person who, in a sport with several against are competing parties , teams directs the match or players. It monitors at the regular gameplay by fact decisions and time checks and punishes irregular conduct by disciplinary action .

A referee must have a good command of all the rules. The associations of many sports publish rulebooks for this purpose and require their referees to take part in further training and corresponding training courses in order to obtain licenses. In addition, in sports regulated by associations , the referee has the duty to write a match report. This document lists all participants, results and key events of the game. It is usually sent to a higher-level association.

Appealability of decisions

Referees make decisions that are sometimes not accepted by fans . In American football, ice hockey , soccer and in rare cases handball, the referee is able to change his decision after viewing a video recording. In swimming, on the other hand, the principle of factual decision applies : decisions by the referee are generally not contestable.

As a result of this incontestability, the referee often gains a higher status than the fair play that is actually intended in sport : In some sports, it is already practiced during training how to commit fouls without the referee noticing. On the other hand, players often try to deceive the referee by playing or overly falling (so-called swallows ). To counter this trend, there are sports such as Ultimate , where there is no referee even in the World Cup . In these cases, the set of rules is designed in such a way that differences of opinion in the event of rule violations can be settled in a simple manner.

A referee has to be a strong personality as he is often criticized and sometimes insulted or threatened.

Special features of individual sports


Main article: Badminton umpire

FIFA referee Stefan Johannesson during a qualifying match for the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League FC Salzburg - Omonia Nicosia
Main article: Football referee

In 1874 the first referee was introduced by the English Football Association . He should lead the game as a referee. As a rule, from the regional league onwards, football referees have two assistant referees on the sidelines (formerly linesmen ) in addition to the referee, and in the Bundesliga and in international games a so-called fourth official who makes the substitutions, keeps an eye on the coaches' benches and those of the referee indicates stoppage time or acts as a substitute referee if necessary. In the European Champions League and Europa League competitions, there are also two optional goal judges, who are positioned at the level of the goal line and support the referee in making decisions about actions in the penalty area.

The assistants limit themselves to the right sideline of one half of the game and cover the areas further away from the referee, who runs diagonally across the field except for necessary game-related deviations. This is usually the area from the side penalty area line to the center line. The assistant is very helpful in making the offside decision. Due to his running position on the sideline, the assistant has the best insight into whether an attacking player is closer to the goal line than the penultimate defender (including the goalkeeper) when the ball is released. The assistant also helps the referee with substitutions, fouls and assaults that happen behind the referee's back.

Well-known football referees of the past were, for example, the FIFA referee Pierluigi Collina (Italy), Anders Frisk (Sweden), the Swiss Urs Meier or the Leipzig Rudi Glöckner , who was the only German to lead a World Cup final - at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

In the wake of the 2005 betting scandal , the former DFB referee of the 2nd Bundesliga and Regionalliga Nord, Robert Hoyzer , played an inglorious role.

You can become a referee from the age of twelve at the earliest. In some arbitration circles, exceptions are also granted. Due to the high turnover of newly trained referees, some groups of referees are raising the minimum age to 16 years.


Main article: handball referee
A handball referee shows the yellow card.

A handball game is presided over by two referees with equal rights. In exceptional cases (such as short-term illness) a game can be directed by just one referee. In the youth sector and in the lower divisions also in the adult sector, in most regions only one referee is provided. This is then regulated in the respective implementation regulations of the associations. From the district, partially state level, referees are basically only two active on the field.

The teams are usually located between the two referees, who are called goal referees and field referees, respectively, due to their position on the field of play. The referees stand diagonally so that they each have a close view of a touchline. If the ball changes possession, the position of the referees automatically changes (goal referee becomes field referee and vice versa). In order to regularly get a different perspective, a so-called long change is carried out about every ten minutes (usually after scoring a goal or during a game interruption) . This means that the referees swap their positions so that they have the other team right in front of them. In addition, the referees usually change sides every five minutes ( short change ).

Handball referees are among the most challenged in refereeing. This is due to the relatively frequent decision-making required in this sport (according to various studies up to ten times more decisions in a game than in football, for example).


Main article: basketball referee

Basketball referee indicates a foul .

Basically, two referees lead a game together. Exceptions are, for example, the German Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), European and international competitions under the supervision of the ULEB or FIBA or the NBA . Here three referees lead a game. All arbitrators have equal rights, although there is a distinction between first and second arbitrators (or in the case of three arbitrators, a first and two second arbitrators). However, this distinction has more formal aspects. The referees are assisted by a jury consisting of a scorer, a timekeeper and a 24-second timekeeper. In higher leagues and competitions this jury is supervised by a technical inspector.

Hockey (field and indoor hockey)

Hockey is directed by two referees both in the field and in the hall, with one or two timekeepers assisting in indoor hockey. In lower leagues it is common for each team to provide a referee, otherwise neutral referees are appointed. Due to the speed of the game and the small size of the ball, conducting a hockey game is extremely demanding. Both referees have equal rights and divide the playing field among each other by an imaginary diagonal. In field hockey, only one referee is allowed to make decisions in the shooting circle, but can ask his colleague for advice. In addition to the whistle, there are three cards in the referee's equipment: green (short time penalty), yellow (longer time penalty) and red (permanent expulsion from the field). For some time now, communication between the referees has been facilitated by radio devices in international matches, and a video referee has recently been used there, who may only be consulted when it is necessary to decide whether a valid goal has been scored. In international hockey, the referees are also supported by so-called judges and technical officers. The best-known German referees are Ute Conen (Grevenbroich) for women, Richard Wolter (Braunschweig) and Christian Blasch (Mülheim / Ruhr) as well as Fabian Blasch (Mülheim / Ruhr), Hans Werner Sartory (Neuss), Christiandeckebrock (Cologne) , Tobias Busse ( Neuss ) and Gaby Schmitz (Cologne).

ice Hockey

Ice hockey referee
Main article: Official (ice hockey)

In ice hockey there are usually three referees on the ice: a main referee, recognizable by red, 8 cm wide armbands in the upper part of the sleeves and two linesmen. In the lower leagues, a system with two equal referees is often used, while in the NHL , the EBEL and the DEL a system with four referees (two main referees, two linesmen) is used.

The linesman are mainly for offsides or unauthorized long shots ( icings charge) and run except by goals or third start of all bullies by. In contrast to other sports, a linesman in ice hockey can interrupt the game by whistling if he detects certain rule violations. The referee team is supported by the referee committee, which consists of a match and penalty timekeeper, two penalty box attendants and the stadium announcer. In international games, so-called off-ice officials are also used: goal judges, video goal judges (controls contentious goal scenes) and point judges (who decide which player is awarded a goal or an assist ).

The duties of the officials in ice hockey are described in the official IIHF ice hockey rules in section 3 "Officials and their duties".


In rugby , similar to football, there is a main referee plus two linesmen. At international games and other major tournaments there is an additional referee ( video referee ) who assesses video replays off the field and communicates with the main referee by radio in order to decide on controversial or hidden moves. The main referee directs the game, while the linesmen usually only indicate fouls and touchdowns. In higher-class leagues, they also note the points scored and the substitution.

The specialty of the rugby referee is that he not only whistles for rule violations, but also intervenes preventively in the game. He actively communicates with the players during the game and thus helps to prevent rule violations in advance. The aim is to keep the game very dynamic and thus attractive for the viewer. The most important principle of a rugby referee is safety on the field. Since rugby is a very physical sport, the integrity of the players is paramount.

A referee has various options during the game to penalize mistakes and foul play. The simplest option is the scrum, which is usually started after minor technical errors. Next comes the free kick, which is used after mostly technical fouls or after time play. The penalty kick is mostly used for gross or repeated foul play. In addition, the referee has the option of warning a player (or the team). After a warning, the next similar violation of the rules will be followed by a warning and thus a yellow card, which means a ten-minute time penalty. The highest punishment is the red card, which means that the player is excluded from the game.



In swimming , the referee (s) have an entire judging panel under them, consisting of timekeepers, turn judges, finish judges, starters, swimming judges, judges and recorders. These support the referee (s) according to their function through their observations and their activities. In the event of irregularities, complaints are written, with the final responsibility for penalties rests with the referees.


Game situation during a snooker tournament

In snooker , the referee at the table has a very active role. First of all, as in other sports, he is responsible for monitoring general rules and principles. Furthermore, at the beginning of a frame and during the game, he makes verbal announcements such as who starts, counts the running points and breaks, checks and explains " Touching Ball ", issues and announces fouls and possible misses , as well as contributing to the game in front of the audience Tournaments for an overall undisturbed atmosphere. He is not allowed to give the players any information about the prescribed course of the game, e.g. B. which ball on or when exactly the frame ball is reached. However , he can tell players with color ametropia what color a particular ball is on request. During the game and especially during the push, he particularly monitors the mandatory contact with the ground (toe is sufficient) by the player, pays attention to any dress fouls and the correct execution of the push as a whole, such as hitting the ball on or just falling the "correct" one Balls.

In the current break, as long as there are red balls on the table, he puts the fallen colors back on the corresponding spot after a correct shot or after a foul and keeps the pockets, which are often used depending on the course of the game, free by shifting the balls into other pockets . If the referee also decides to miss after a foul , he will restore the previous table situation as precisely as possible at the request of the fouled player in order to allow the fouler to repeat the same stroke. In addition, in the event of a foul, he must check whether the fouled player is now snooker and also award a freeball in order to avoid gaining advantages through possible deliberate fouls.

The soiling of the balls caused by the constant chalking of the cue tips is regularly cleaned by the referee using the white cotton gloves he has been wearing when requested by the players. Only in exceptional cases, for example when a ball falls from the table to the floor, can and must check and clean the ball without being asked. When playing with the auxiliary cues, the referee helps: the small, simple remainder is removed from the player after he has picked it up from the table and hung in the appropriate holder on the head or foot board. Exception: the placing of colored balls on the spot takes precedence, so that the player has to put down the auxiliary cue himself in this case. The referee himself takes the larger auxiliary cues including telescopic extensions out of the holders, places them on the table for the player and, after use, puts them back in the appropriate storage on the table.

With the colored balls, the referee announces the number of points only after he has correctly placed the ball back on the spot and thus enables play again.

American football

A referee (right) watches a touchdown.

Due to the complexity and the often confusing game events, American football has a whole crew of referees. It consists of at least four referees, usually five in the amateur leagues and seven in the higher leagues, with each referee observing a certain area of ​​the field and being responsible for specific tasks.

Head judge is the referee now and then colloquially, because of his white cap Whitecap called. He usually positions himself behind the quarterback and judges downs and penalties. Other referees are the umpire , who stands behind the defensive line and usually secures the ball and positions it for the next play. The Head Linesman and the Line Judge stand at the line of scrimmage on one side . The former is responsible for the chain crew . The back judge , field judge and side judge are responsible for all actions in the back of the field . Usually one of these three referees is responsible for timing.

The equipment of the referees includes, among other things, the yellow flags to mark a foul and the white ( NCAA ) resp. blue ( NFL ) beanbags to mark important spots.


First referee in a volleyball game

In volleyball , the arbitration board consists of two referees (plus two or four line judges and the rest of the competition court). The first referee stands elevated at one end of the net and directs the game. He is supported by the second referee at the other end of the network. While the first referee mainly decides on general and technical matters, the second referee has to control the line-up of the accepting team as well as to observe the net and the area below it and to report possible line-up errors, net contact and a violation by whistle.

Student fencing

In student fencing , the "referee" is called the referee and is provided by a student association which, although striking itself and in the same ring of arms , is not otherwise involved in the game in question. The referee is usually an elderly fellow with experience of his past . He only intervenes in the course of the game at the beginning, when he commands Silentium and passes the word to one of the seconds , and at the end, when he declares the game over. Otherwise stated, his manager on request only one of the seconds or test designers a blow for in comment under or provides other infractions determined.

Table tennis


Lacrossereferee at Faceoff Wales vs. Suisse at the European Lacrosse Championships 2012 in Amsterdam

In lacrosse , the team of referees consists of five officials who are called “referees” for men and “umpires” for women. Of the five referees, three equals are on the field, one of whom is the head referee, who can overrule the other two in case of doubt. The field referees jointly monitor all actions on the field and also name the corresponding shooters and assists after the goals. Since there are often rule violations away from the ball, the field referees divide the playing field into different observation zones. In addition, there are two referees in the transition area (gate), the CBO (Chief Bench Official - bank referee) and the BM (bench manager - bank manager). The CBO is responsible for the rule violations in the transition area and the BM supports the CBO as well as the timekeepers and markers and represents the substitute referee for the field referees in the event of a failure among them. In the German leagues, apart from the playoffs and the German championship, the BM is often foregone. In lower US leagues, lacrosse games are often led by only two field referees and the bench is completely dispensed with.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Referee Regulations (SrO) . May 26, 2008 (4 pages, PDF ).