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Dehydration of football referees during a match
  1. A I Da Silva,
  2. R Fernandez
  1. Departmento de Fisiologia, Setor de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Paraná, Paraná, Brasil
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Fernandez
 Depto de Fisiologia - Setor de Ciências Biológicas – UFPR, Centro Politecnico s/n. CEP: 81531-970, Curitiba - PR, Brasil;


Objectives: To study hydration status in referees (main) and assistant referees (linesmen) during official football matches.

Methods: Twelve male football referees were evaluated; all were volunteers. Before and after each match, the referee and one of the assistants were weighed without clothes and a blood sample was taken. Total water loss was determined for each subject from the change in body weight. The main haematological variables were analysed in the blood samples. Total plasma protein concentration and osmolarity were also determined. Variation in plasma volume was determined from changes in packed cell volume and a combination of changes in packed cell volume and haemoglobin concentrations.

Results: During a match, total body water loss was 1.60 (0.13) litres, equivalent to 2.05 (0.18)% of body weight. Body weight was reduced by 1.55 (0.12)%, showing that water ingestion during the interval replaces only 24.4% of the body fluids lost during the match. The assistants lost 0.79 (0.19) litre of water, equivalent to 1.05 (0.25)% of body weight. The referees showed a significant decrease in plasma volume of 4.99 (1.33)%. The assistants showed a non-significant increase in plasma volume. The reduction in plasma volume observed in the referees correlated significantly with total body water loss (r  =  0.9623). From these data, it is possible to predict that a dehydration of 1% reflects a reduction in plasma volume of nearly 2.5%.

Conclusions: Referees are moderately dehydrated after a football match (2%), whereas assistants show a non-significant dehydration of 1% of their body weight.

  • football referee
  • dehydration
  • plasma volume
  • sweat loss
  • exercise

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  • Financial support: CNPq, Brasil.