The Referee Leader

A referee of a soccer match or a sport match, in general, is analogous to leaders of today. The similarities are striking.

The situation of a soccer match changes with the change of weather, of the competing teams, and with the atmosphere prevailing by the audience and the weather. The playing ground and its quality and dimensions also have their effect. In turbulent weather with wind, rain or snow and fog add to the uncertainty of the weather. It becomes uncertain and unpredictable as the climate of business is today.

What adds to the complexity of the game is the behavior of the players and their ambitions. How the players, coaches, and the spectators react to;

  • Winds of fortune blow against a players’ luck. The ball keeps hitting the crossbars and out of play. Will his wind of motivation stop?
  • Will the wind of anger make the referee angry with a player cursing him and show him the red card?
  • Will the referee allow for the wind of opportunity to blow and not whistle even if a player is fouled to keep the player’s opportunity for scoring?
  • Will the blaming culture prevail in a team for not passing the ball in time for a teammate who has a better opportunity to score?
  • Will the referee allow the audience of the host team to roar and use his whistle to please them?
  • How a team will react to early setbacks by conceding a goal early in the match?
  • How the supposedly stronger team reacts to early setbacks such as losing a key player through injury. Will the spirit of retaliation prevail? What would the referee do to calm them down and protect the players?
  • What if the referee makes a wrong decision and will he has the courage to reverse his decision or will arrogance stop him from doing this?
  • Does the referee blows the whistle in the wind and is unsure about what to do? A hesitant referee is a weak referee.

The referee has a leading role. He should keep his integrity, show self-control, be able to keep the trust of all parties, remain fair, be willing to self-correct decisions and be able to protect all players.

A game of football is a game of teams.



Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. Do you know what I like most about your comments, Aldo?
    It is their clarity and persuasion power. I feel it is enough just to invite readers of the post to consider thoroughly your comment as an integral part of the post.

    I find this segment of your comment exemplary of what I mean. “I conclude by saying that the greatest lesson in refereeing is “learning to learn”, learning from one’s mistakes, from the offenses of others, etc. ”
    I could notagree more.

  2. there are many similarities between the leadership and the referee.
    The referee must make decisions, often in stressful situations, in a period of time less than one second, in which a sort of snapshot of what is the scenario of the moment “snaps” in the mind.
    Having to decide, the ability to be a leader is also exercised, as in the case of the referee trio, of which the referee is the main protagonist.
    Furthermore, making decisions also helps to acquire a habit of considering different variables that add up in a micro-moment, leading to see things as a single whole and not as simple random facts.
    The referee must make his leadership “felt” to the players, collaborators, managers and coaches.
    Knowing the rules (hard skills) is the basis, but often not enough. Adjust the tone of voice, measure and find the right words to explain a decision, understand who you are in front of: in short, acquire (if you don’t have it) a certain emotional intelligence (or soft skills in general).
    Humility is also closely linked to the concept of leadership: the leader sets an example and demands a lot above all from himself. If I am the first to expect that the players respect me only for the role I play, can I ever expect that, in the event of a mistake, they will accept my judgment without any protest?
    In addition to the players, managers and fans, the referee is above all the leader of an arbitration team, which he coordinates according to directives (Teamwork and result orientation).
    I conclude by saying that the greatest lesson in refereeing is “learning to learn”, learning from one’s mistakes, from the offenses of others, etc. It is what allows us to always evaluate with clarity, without anxiety, mentally relieving pressures from the outside, and which gives the strength (resilience) to react positively to the criticisms raised by those who judge them (the observer) and by those who faces (the footballers).

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