A prospective study of injury and activity profile in elite soccer referees and assistant referees

Ir Med J. 2011 Nov-Dec;104(10):295-7.


Injuries to soccer players have been extensively examined, but not the injury experience of referees and assistant referees. This study aimed to determine the injury incidence and activity profile of soccer match officials. A 12 month prospective cohort study was used to collect activity and injury data of 31 participants who reported their training and match exposure and their injury incidence by means of weekly online questionnaire. Study participants spent a mean of 2632 hrs training and 1704 hrs officiating over the 12 month study period. Thirty eight injuries were recorded, (8.8 injuries/1000 hr of training (CI 6.2 to 12.0) and 16.4 injuries/1000 hr for match officiating (CI 10.9 to 23.8)), (Risk Ratio 4.3, 2.1 to 8.9). Fifty five percent (CI 40 to 70%) of the injuries were to muscles, and 76% (CI 61 to 87%) were to the lower leg. Overuse injuries represented 61% (CI 45 to 74%) of all cases. Findings showed that the injury frequency rate associated with soccer referees is higher than that in a number of other non contact sports. The injury incidence associated with training for soccer referees is higher than that associated with training for soccer players. Further prospective studies are merited to examine effectiveness and availability of injury management programmes to establish the welfare of this population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leg Injuries / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Soccer / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trauma Severity Indices