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Leading elite association football referees: challenges in the cross-cultural organization of a geographically dispersed group

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This study examines the organization of elite Association Football referees in the domestic, European and international game. Specifically, the cross-cultural working practices, training, preparation and performance of these elite referees are explored. 42 semi-structured interviews were conducted with elite referees and ex-referees as well as individuals involved in leadership and training worldwide to explore the leadership of a geographically dispersed workforce. Results highlighted some positive aspects of training and leadership, but indicated that effective leadership, evolution and innovation are required in order to keep pace with globalized, technological developments in Association Football. The findings can be utilised by leaders in order to understand further the challenges faced in the organization of elite sports people and assist in the construction of appropriate strategies toward a more standardized approach to leadership within refereeing, Association Football and professional sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-123
JournalManaging Sport and Leisure
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Leading Elite Association Football Referees

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Managing Sport and Leisure on 22/07/2016, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 336 KB, PDF document

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