An integrated conceptual framework of decision-making in soccer refereeing

Roy David Samuel, Gershon Tenenbaum, Yair Galily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Decision-making (DM) is a critical aspect of soccer refereeing. Referees make numerous repetitive decisions, many of which are dependent on appropriate field location and effective interaction with their assistants. Considering the complexity of the sequential DM process, it is not surprising that referees exhibit high decision error rates. Most extant research has focused on the underlying mechanism of the DM process as well as on various influential factors. Less attention has been given to models that consider the range of influential factors which affect the DM process. This article, therefore, presents a new conceptual framework of sequential DM for soccer referees that relies on Tenenbaum’s (2003. Expert athletes: An integrated approach to decision making. In J. Starkes & A. Ericsson (Eds.), Expert performance in sports: Advances in research on sport expertise (pp. 191–218). Human Kinetics) conceptual framework and the existing literature. We start by reviewing research on DM in soccer refereeing and then discuss conceptual considerations. We then present the new conceptual framework. This model incorporates a range of factors, including physical fitness and fatigue, field positioning, visual attention, contextual factors, game management, expertise, psychological factors, and team factors. Data obtained from a sample of 20 elite referees and assistants demonstrated the face validity of the new model. Finally, we introduce implications for training referees’ DM skills and highlight avenues for future research and conceptual developments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-760
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Football
  • VAR
  • contextual information
  • fatigue
  • officials


Dive into the research topics of 'An integrated conceptual framework of decision-making in soccer refereeing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this