“He’s taken a dive”

Tom Webb (Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)
Richard Thelwell (Department of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, UK)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Publication date: 13 July 2015



The purpose of this paper is to consider the cultural similarities and differences between elite referees concerning their preparation and performance in dealing with reduced player behaviour.


Semi-structured interviews were employed to collect the data. The 37 participants from England, Spain and Italy were selected through the use of purposive sampling, and all were working in the field of refereeing as current elite-level referees, ex-elite-level referees, referee assessors, referee coaches, or managers and administrators from bodies that manage and train referees. Inductive content analysis was employed to generate themes from the raw data.


Referees have identified particular issues related specifically to player behaviour and also identified specific traits pertaining to players from certain countries. Furthermore, results demonstrate that referees have begun to alter their preparation and performance due to the pressure they perceive exists within association football and, more specifically, from the players themselves.


This study is the first to compare cross-cultural elite referee responses regarding their preparation and performance related to player behaviour.



The authors wish to thank all of the referees and individuals in managerial, training and administrative roles associated with refereeing that have taken part in the interview process.


Webb, T. and Thelwell, R. (2015), "“He’s taken a dive”", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 242-258. https://doi.org/10.1108/SBM-04-2014-0019

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