Elite Level Refereeing in Men’s Football: A Developmental Sociological Account
thesisposted on 09.07.2010, 11:45 by Sharon Colwell
This thesis explores ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ refereeing and refereeing problems have developed in elite level English men’s football. The study, which is framed by a figurational or process sociological approach traces the origins and development of match officiating from the mid 19th century through to the 2000-01 Premier League season. The analysis begins with the introduction of ‘third parties’ to oversee the early football-like games and concludes with a discussion of the key issues raised in interviews with elite level refereeing personnel. In between, the development of various administrative bodies which have been concerned with refereeing practices and problems, such as the FA, the Football League, FIFA and the Referees’ Union are discussed. Throughout, I explore changes in officiating through an in-depth analysis of the FA Laws of the Game and critically assess what these Laws ‘tell us’ about the way football was played from the mid 19th century. This study then considers the changing status of match officials through the 20th century and explores the impact of television and newspaper coverage on our perceptions of refereeing problems in the contemporary game. Throughout, I analyse the dynamic power relationships between players, administrators, fans, media personnel and referees in order to develop our understanding of how refereeing problems have emerged. Throughout I contextualise match officials within the broader relational network of which they are a part in order to understand how referees have been constrained and/ or enabled by other members of the football ‘world’.