The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Responsibilities of the Officials

Roles of a Referee in Football

Besides enforcing the Laws of the Game, what exactly does a referee do in a football game? Read on to check the role and responsibilities of officials in 11 vs. 11 association football.

FOOTBALL REFEREE RULES: There is a long list of duties and tasks for a referee to fulfill when officiating a soccer game.

The primary role is enforcing the Laws of the Game with full authority and leadership throughout the course of a match.

A football referee rules the competition and keeps a check of the time - 90 minutes of normal time.

Depending on the level of the competition, up to four (4) officials will take charge of a game. The referee is the person on the pitch carrying a whistle and is most often dressed in black clothing.

Other key roles of a referee include positioning themselves close to the action. The regulations of football do not allow any foul play and the ref must officiate all 17 laws in the game. They will award free-kicks for certain types of rules' infringements.

Soccer Referee Sayings: The football officials dressed in black are having a good game when the fans don't notice their activities.

There should be two assistant referees helping to rule decisions and officiate the game. Each assistant referee will run their touchline to help with decision making.

The role of linesman in football is an important one. They often get a clearer view from the side on incidents like the offside rule and throw-ins.

Football Referee Health and Safety

The referee has a duty and responsibility towards health and safety in football. They can stop the game, suspend it, or postpone it. In fact, they can call off a match completely if there are serious issues with the crowd or with weather conditions.

A fourth official is also involved from the touchline in professional matches and tournaments. The main role of a fourth official is assisting with player substitutions (e.g. monitoring equipment).

Note: The roles and responsibilities of a referee in football often involve overseeing unruly team managers as well.

Football Referee Responsibilities

FIFA Law 5: Roles and Responsibilities of Officials in FootballFootball Referee Authority

A football referee rules and controls with full authority. Referees enforce FIFA Laws of the Game in connection with each match.

Football Referee Decision Making

The referee makes and calls decisions to the best of his or her ability. They do so according to the Laws of the Game and the spirit of the game.

Football referee decision making centers on the opinion of the referee. Their discretion results in appropriate action within the framework of football rules.

All decisions of the referee in football are final. This includes whether a goal is legal and the end result of the match.

Can a Referee Change His Decision During a Football Match?

The simple answer is yes. But, referee rules in football only allow a change of decision in certain circumstances.

The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or on the advice of another match official, provided play has not restarted or the referee has signalled the end of the first or second half (including extra time) and left the field of play or terminated the match.

The referee cannot change his mind during the half time interval or after the final whistle.

Note: What happens if a referee becomes incapacitated? Play may continue under the supervision of the other match officials until the ball is next out of play.

Football Officials and their Roles

FIFA LAW 5 The Referee in Football

Referee Rules in Football: Advantage

The referee in football allows play to continue when an infringement or offence occurs:

Football Referee Rules: Disciplinary Action

Referee Rules in Football: Injuries

Football Referee Rules: Outside Interference

A football referee can stop, suspend or abandon the match for any infringements of the Laws. They have the same powers to rule over an outside interference such as if:

Football Referee Compulsory Equipment

Other equipment that football referees may use include:

Note: Football referees rules prohibit match officials from wearing jewellery or electronic equipment.

Football Referee Signals

Besides the current 'two armed' referee signals for an advantage, a similar 'one arm' signal is now permitted. FIFA introduced the new ruling because it is not always easy for referees to run with both arms extended.

Liability of Match Officials

A referee or other match official is not held liable for any:

Roles and Responsibilities of Officials in Football