- Make sure football matches are played according to rules and are safe and fair
- You'll often start as a part time match official but can work your way up to full time posts
- You'll need good fitness levels, good observational skills, and good people skills to manage competitive matches
As a football referee, you'll look after players' safety at amateur or professional football matches, and make sure they obey the rules of the game.
Before kick-off, you'll:
- Inspect the pitch and markings
- Make sure equipment like goalposts and nets are safely set up
- Check you have everything you need for the game, like stopwatches, cards and radio communications (at top levels)
- Meet with team managers
- Brief your assistants on which signals to use and what to do in particular situations, like if there's a confrontation on the pitch
During a game, you'll:
- Follow the play and make decisions
- Communicate with your assistants to help with rulings
- Control the behaviour of the teams on the pitch, and their coaching staff on the sidelines
At higher levels, you'll also write up match reports on any incidents during a game that need to be followed up, like a controversial tackle or sending-off.
Your hours would depend on whether you referee at an amateur or professional level. Amateur games are usually played at weekends and sometimes weekday evenings.
At semi-professional and professional level, you may have to travel to grounds anywhere in the country.
At professional and semi-professional levels, you'll normally work with two assistant referees and a fourth official. In amateur football, you'll take responsibility for the match on your own.
To be a football referee, you'll need patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, thoroughness and attention to detail, the ability to work well with others, ambition and a desire to succeed, excellent verbal communication skills, concentration skills, and the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning.
You can get into refereeing through a structured training programme run by the Football Association (FA). You'll need to register with your local County Football Association and complete a Basic Referee's Course. This is part of the FA's National Referee Development Programme (NRDP). The NRPD also includes a specific pathway for women who want to work their way up from trainee to refereeing in the Women's Premier and Super Leagues.
After completing the course, you would usually start refereeing at youth football level then progress as your experience grows. You can do further training with the FA to help you advance to high level refereeing.
With experience, you could train to become a referee training instructor, match assessor or referee development officer with a County FA.
You could also use your knowledge and experience to move into related areas, like sports development in the community.