Referee abuse, intention to quit and well-being

Paul Downward, Tom Webb, Peter Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


There are growing levels of abuse towards match officials in sport as well as general problems of their recruitment and retention. Purpose: This study analyses the role that physical and non-physical abuse has on association football referees’ intentions to quit and their personal well-being. Methods: Drawing on pooled survey data of association football referees from the UK and Canada, this paper employs probit, ordinary least squares, and treatment effects regression analyses to explore the casual relationship between the physical and non-physical abuse faced by referees, their intention to quit and their well-being. Results: Although physical abuse is less common than non-physical abuse both affect the intention to quit and well-being of officials. Moreover, those that do not contemplate quitting also face reductions in their well-being. Conclusion: The research recommends a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of abuse of officials in sport and identifies that organisations have a duty of care for the well-being of their officials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages11
JournalResearch Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
Early online date11 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2023 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.


  • Regression
  • Officials
  • Abuse
  • Well-being


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