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A prospective study of injuries in elite soccer referees and assistant referees
  1. F Wilson1,
  2. C Gissane2,
  3. A Byrne3
  1. 1Trinity College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
  2. 2St Mary's University College, London, UK
  3. 3Football Association of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland


Background Injury incidence in soccer players has received wide attention, but there is a lack of information dealing with match officials.

Objective To examine the profile and incidence of injury in soccer match officials.

Design A 12 month prospective cohort injury surveillance programme.

Setting Elite soccer referees and assistant referees who were part of the Football Association of Ireland referee database.

Participants 31 participants (27 males and 4 females), mean age 33.2 (6.2) years old (69% of the available cohort).

Assessment of risk factors Weekly web based survey, followed up by a telephone interview in those cases who reported injury.

Main outcome measurements Details of training and match officiating. New injuries in terms of site of the body, type of injury, where, when and how it took place.

Results Most activity time was spent training (61%) with 39% spent officiating. 38 injuries were recorded, (8.8/1000 h training (CI 6.2 to 12.0) and 16.4/1000 h for match officiating (CI 10.9 to 23.8), (RR 4.3, 2.1 to 8.9)). 55% (CI 40 to 70%) were injuries to muscles. 76% (CI 61 to 87) were to the lower leg. Overuse injuries represented 61% (CI 45 to 74%) of all cases. Achilles tendinopathy and hip/groin muscle strain were the most common injuries (18.4% of all injuries each). The proportion of overuse injuries that took place in matches (68%) and training (40%) were not significantly different (difference=28%, 95% CI −6 to 55). Only two injuries (5.3%, 95% CI 1.5 to 17.0) involved contact, both during training.

Conclusion Elite match officials complete high volumes of training and officiating. Match officials are at risk of sustaining injury which in training, is similar to the incidence reported in soccer players.

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