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Experts in Sport: Challenges within sports officiating

Sports officiating is integral to the organisation and structure of sport, but what adversities are present within this area?

In this episode of the Experts in Sport podcast, host Dr Stuart McErlain-Naylor and guest Dr Tom Webb discuss officiating within sports and the challenges that face referees and other officials across the landscape.

Throughout the episode, conversations around the role and purpose of a sports official are centred, alongside the perception of sports officials as athletes, embracing the introduction of technologies such as VAR, and debating what constitutes a successful outcome.

The issue of recruitment and retention of professionals within the field are presented, analysing potential solutions and drawing upon practices outside of the sports industry that may assist in improving the process of officiating. An array of variables are identified to account for cultural differences across sports, with officials being encouraged to consider how these affect play and the final result.

Errors within officiating and instances of re-refereeing are evaluated, exploring the abuse and maltreatment that contribute to negative experiences across sport. Officials are placed as fundamental within this landscape and ensuring that the integrity and ethos of sports are upheld is reflected in discussions.

Dr Tom Webb is an Associate Professor in the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University. His research centres around referees and sports officials and the abuse, maltreatment, mental health, and career development that they experience. He is the founder of the Referee and Sports Official Research Network, bringing together academics, sports official industry professionals and policy makers.

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The Experts in Sport podcast is a regular series that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia with new episodes launched regularly.