Match officials and abuse: A systematic review

Dara Mojtahedi, Tom Webb, Chelsea B. Leadley, Matthew Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)


Research question: Match official abuse (MOA) in team sports has become a prominent issue within sport management; the effects of MOA on the safety, wellbeing and retention of officials has led to a growth of academic enquiry. The present review aimed to develop a thorough understanding of MOA through the perspective of sport officials from various sports. Research methods: The current authors conducted a systematic literature review on match official’s experiences of abuse. Research databases (PsychInfo, Scopus, PubMed, Science Direct, SPORTDiscus, Web of Science) were screened for peer-reviewed research published between 1999 and 2022. Sixty studies of mixed research designs were retained and evaluated using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT).Results and Findings: Qualitative synthesis of the results identified five key themes of empirical findings pertaining to the nature and prevalence of abuse; the effects of abuse on performance, wellbeing and retention; methods of interpersonal conflict management; facilitators of abuse; and match officials’ attitudes towards current support and intervention. Results show that MOA effects individuals at all levels of competition and can adversely affect the performance and wellbeing of officials. Implications: The findings are used to identify relevant sport management issues and the authors discuss potential policy outcomes for reducing the prevalence and adverse effects of MOA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-221
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number1
Early online date16 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis GroupThis is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License(, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in anymedium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


This study was funded through the FIFA Research Scholarship 2019, awarded by FIFA and International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES).


  • referee
  • retention
  • dissent
  • match official
  • abuse


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