Referee abuse, intention to quit and well-being

Paul Downward*, Thomas Webb, Peter Dawson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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There are growing levels of abuse towards match officials in sport as well as general problems of their recruitment and retention.

Purpose: This study analyses the role that physical and non-physical abuse has on association football referees’ intentions to quit and their personal well-being.

Methods: Drawing on pooled survey data of association football referees from the UK and Canada, this paper employs probit, ordinary least squares, and treatment effects regression analyses to explore the casual relationship between the physical and non-physical abuse faced by referees, their intention to quit and their well-being.

Results: Although physical abuse is less common than non-physical abuse both affect the intention to quit and well-being of officials. Moreover, those that do not contemplate quitting also face reductions in their well-being.

Conclusion: The research recommends a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of abuse of officials in sport and identifies that organisations have a duty of care for the well-being of their officials.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Early online date11 Apr 2023
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Apr 2023


  • Regression
  • Officials
  • Abuse
  • Well-being

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