The UK Rules
'Follow the Regulations'
Referee Responsibilities

Roles of a Referee in Football

What does a referee do in a football game? This section explains the role and responsibilities of the officials in 11 vs. 11 association football.

OFFICIALS IN FOOTBALL: There are many roles and responsibilities of a referee in football.

The primary role is enforcing the Laws of the Game throughout the course of a match.

A football referee rules the competition and keeps a check of the time.

Football officials take charge, carry a loud whistle, and soccer referees are usually dressed in black.

Other important roles of a football referee include awarding free-kicks.

FIFA regulations of football do not allow any foul play and the ref must officiate all 17 laws in the game.

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

There should be two assistant referees helping to rule decisions and officiate the game. Assistant referees run the touchlines helping out with decisions.

The role of linesman in football often gets a clearer view from the side on incidents such as offside rulings and throw-ins.

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. But their duties often involve monitoring unruly managers as well.

Soccer Referee Sayings: Football officials in black are having a good game when the fans don't notice them.

Football Referee Responsibilities

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

A football referee rules and controls with full authority. Referees enforce the 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, football referee rules 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

Football Referee Rules: Advantage

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

Football Referee Rules: Disciplinary Action

Football Referee Rules: Injuries

Football Referee Rules: Outside Interference

A football referee can stop, suspend or abandon the match for any infringements of the Laws. He has the same powers to rule over outside interferences such as if:

Football Referee Compulsory Equipment

Other equipment that football referees may use include:

Note: Referees and other match officials are prohibited from wearing jewellery or electronic equipment.

Football Referee Signals

In addition to the current 'two armed' signal 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 a Referee in Football: Rules of Soccer Officials