The purpose of this study was to investigate the frequency and characteristics of injury and musculo-skeletal complaints in Swiss football referees of all levels. A representative sample of 489 Swiss referees was interviewed regarding their socio-demographic characteristics, refereeing qualifications, time spent in training and in matches, history of injuries and musculo-skeletal complaints caused by training or refereeing, and other medical problems. A total of 110 referees (22.5%) reported having suffered at least one injury related to officiating, and 126 referees (25.8%) at least one refereeing-related musculo-skeletal complaint. Thigh strains and ankle sprains were the most frequent injuries, with the most frequent locations of complaints being the knee and lower back. The incidence of match injuries in the last 12 months was on average 2.06 per 1000 match hours; the incidence of training injuries was substantially lower (0.09 per 1000 training hours). The injury rates were similar for referees officiating at an adult level, but lower at a junior level. In comparison with elite football referees, the incidence of training injuries and the prevalence of musculo-skeletal complaints were lower in amateur referees. Nevertheless, preventive programs are indicated for referees at all levels, especially when considering the length of a referee's career.
© 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S.