In a new study publisched in Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, more than 60% of all swiss referees reported at least one injury during their career, and musculoskeletal complaints were documented in almost 90% of all individuals.
All 71 (66 males and 7 females) referees and assistant referees of the two top divisions of the Swiss Football League (season 2005/06) participated in this study.
They were asked to answer an injury questionnaire followed by an interview on injuries and musculoskeletal complaints during a training camp in January 2006.
The results of this survey and interview investigation revealed that more than 6 out of 10 of all male referees reported at least one injury during their career. In addition, musculoskeletal complaints could be documented for almost all individuals There were no differences observed between match and assistant referees.
The most common injuries were hamstring strains and ankle sprains. Hamstring, knee, achilles tendon and calf were the most prevalent locations of musculoskeletal complaints. Unfortunately, the number of female referees was too small to draw conclusions.
Considering the fact, that only injuries with at least a 2 weeks time loss were reported, and that half of the injuries occurred during the last year, it can be speculated that the true incidence of injuries may have been underestimated.
Regarding the evolution of football, in terms of speed and intensity, the referees are also imposed to higher physiological demands during the game and training. The results of this study document the need for prevention programs among football referees and assistant referees.
The authors of this study are Mario Bizzini, Astrid Junge, Roald Bahr, and Jiri Dvorak.
Read the paper.