Referees and the media: a difficult relationship but an unavoidable necessity

Thomas Webb

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The association football/media relationship has evolved since the sport was covered in newspapers, and on radio and television. The impact of the media on association football is undeniable with increased wealth in the game directly attributable to the increasing monetary value of television deals covering the English Premier League. This has, in turn, meant that refereeing decisions are now subject to intensified scrutiny and historically this has been identified as a significant source of pressure for referees. This article has utilized semi-structured interviews with the broadcast media in the UK alongside a notational analysis of 20 live Premier League matches in the 2013–2014 season, in order to analyse the pressure exerted by the media on referees. Findings indicate that the pressure on referees is not as great as previously accepted. Interviews and notational analysis demonstrate a more considered interpretation of the role of the referee today in association football.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSoccer & Society
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Jan 2016


  • elite referees
  • media
  • association football
  • sport/media relationship
  • pressure


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