Match officials and abuse: A systematic review

Dara Mojtahedi*, Thomas Webb, Chelsea Leadley, Matthew Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Research question: Match official abuse (MOA) in team sports has become a prominent issue within sport management; the effects of MOA on the safety, wellbeing and retention of officials has led to a growth of academic enquiry. The present review aimed to develop a thorough understanding of MOA through the perspective of sport officials from various sports.

Research methods:
The current authors conducted a systematic literature review on match official’s experiences of abuse. Research databases (PsychInfo, Scopus, PubMed, Science Direct, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science) were screened for peer-reviewed research published between 1999 and 2022. Sixty studies of mixed research designs were retained and evaluated using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT).

Results and Findings: Qualitative synthesis of the results identified five key themes of empirical findings pertaining to the nature and prevalence of abuse; the effects of abuse on performance, wellbeing and retention; methods of interpersonal conflict management; facilitators of abuse; and match officials’ attitudes towards current support and intervention. Results show that MOA effects individuals at all levels of competition and can adversely affect the performance and wellbeing of officials.

The findings are used to identify relevant sport management issues and the authors discuss potential policy outcomes for reducing the prevalence and adverse effects of MOA.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Early online date16 Jul 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 16 Jul 2022


  • referee
  • retention
  • dissent
  • match official
  • abuse


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