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What Are the Duties of a Soccer Referee?

author image Tammy Dray
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.
What Are the Duties of a Soccer Referee?
Referees keep the peace during soccer matches. Photo Credit Romans Koksarovs/Hemera/Getty Images


Enforcers of the game, referees make binding decisions regarding the application of the laws of soccer. The main referee works in conjunction with assistant referees, who are in charge of watching the lines and ensuring the game is being played fairly.

Enforcing Fair Play

The main duty of a referee is to watch over the game and enforce fair play. Referees have a right to sanction players with yellow or red cards, stop or terminate the game due to risk factors, and assess fouls and penalties. Referees are also in charge of keeping time and providing a game report to league officials.

Keeping Players Safe

Referees monitor player safety. This means that if a player is injured or bleeding, a referee stops the game and ensures that the player is removed or cared for on the field. This protects both the injured player and the teammates. Referees can also card players to maintain order in the match and order coaches or parents to leave sidelines if they’re interfering with the play or not conducting themselves properly.

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A referee has a duty to pay attention to the surrounding environment and ensure that the conditions are acceptable for play. For example, a referee has a duty to stop the match if the weather is too severe, interferes with the play or is putting the players in danger. The same is true if the condition of the field is not up to code, if spectator interference occurs or if some of the fixtures or equipment become damaged during the game.

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