Disciplinary measures defining referee activity in top-European football leagues: A cross-sectional investigation

Mohamad Nizam Nazarudin, Anwar P.P. Abdul Majeed, Ahmad Bisyri Husin Musawi Maliki*, Mohamad Razali Abdullah, Garry Kuan, Rabiu Muazu Musa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The success and enjoyment of a football match depend heavily on referees and their ability to ensure fair play and uphold the rules of the game. However, there is limited research investigating the disciplinary measures and booking activities of referees in top European football leagues. In the current investigation, we explored the disciplinary measures and booking activities of top-European football league referees. The dataset of the referee activities concerning 15 indicators containing 602 matches from five consecutive seasons across the five top European leagues, namely, the English Premier League, Spanish Laliga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue1, and German Bundesliga were utilized for this study. K-means cluster analysis was used to define the activity levels of the referees. The Mann-Whitney U test was employed to determine the differences in the levels of the referees' activity with respect to the disciplinary measures, while binary regression analysis was applied to examine the association between the disciplinary measures and the activity levels of the referees. Two groups of activities were defined by k-means, that is, high and low activity. The Mann-Whitney U test revealed statistically significant differences in all 15 indicators examined between high and low activity. However, the regression model demonstrated that only fouls, yellow cards, and air challenges could significantly describe referees’ activity levels. These indicators appear to be predictors of high referee activity in elite European Football. Specific training on dealing with increased aggression and foul behaviour coupled with improved game organisational management could be further incorporated into referees' training programmes amongst other measures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere25402
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2024


  • Booking activity
  • Disciplinary measures
  • European football championships
  • Misconducts offences
  • Referees' activity


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