Referees, umpires and officials work with amateur and professional sportspersons to organize and officiate in sporting events according to established rules (ILO, 2018).



Sports and Fitness Workers

Sports and fitness workers prepare for and compete in sporting events for financial gain; train amateur and professional sportsmen and women to enhance performance; promote participation and standards in sport; organize and officiate sporting events; and provide instruction, training and supervision for various forms of exercise and other recreational activities (ILO, 2018).

  • Sporting Officials



At present, the use of cameras and technology is already becoming more widespread in sports.  In professional tennis, umpires have access to hawk-eye technology which allows players to appeal decisions when a ball is called in or out of play.  In cricket, umpires have access to a motion predictor developed for the military, infra-red cameras, a sensitive microphone and an ultra-slow-motion replay to establish whether the batsman is out.  And most recently, in professional football (soccer), cameras have been introduced to be used on the goal-line to determine if the football crosses the goal line and if a goal can be awarded.  This increase in the use of cameras and technology in sports to date has led to changes in the role of referees and umpires.  Whereas before, referees and their assistants had the final say in making decisions, now their role is supported by additional technology, especially in terms of mature goal-line technology (Venture Beat, 2017).  While this is designed to make sports fairer and to ensure that incorrect decisions are not made, there is reluctance from referees in some sports to embrace this change as they will lose some authority over how they officiate games and sporting events.


At the moment, sport stadiums already contain more cameras and displays than they did even a decade ago. In the future, cameras will become smaller, lighter and more affordable meaning that within 10 years we could see players wearing cameras on their person. These camera feeds can be further supplemented by feeds from insect like camera drones which could be used in professional field sports in the future.
While this will give fans a more intimate view of the game from the players’ perspective, it will also mean a further change in the role for referees and umpires. In the future, fans, managers, sports coaches, TV pundits and all spectators will have access to camera feeds which show every movement on the sports field from multiple angles, all in real-time; impacting on the referee or umpire’s autonomy in making effective decisions in games and sporting events.

The Future of Football

Developing a heads up display (HUD) visor or contact lens display could allow data to be overlaid on the field of view as all spectators watch a game. Each player could have a data bubble above them that will present data on player physiology, well-being and other data collected through a full active skin sensory relay. While these advances will all enhance the experience for spectators, it will also impact on the role of referees. Ideally, they should be able to see the action from any angle and zoom in or out at will and using active contact lenses, referees could easily do this during a game or match. Access to this additional data will improve the referees’ ability to make effective decisions. The referees will be able to combine inputs from several cameras and other sensors to make a high quality 3D view of the entire field.

The sporting heroes of the future, and the referees who officiate their matches, may all be androids. Androids in the future will be built with a strong skeleton overlaid with polymer gel muscles that feel soft but are five times stronger than humans. This will make androids far more agile and sporting events and matches potentially more exciting. These androids will also be very well networked so every aspect of their play and condition could be used in supporter apps. With androids playing sports in the future and supporters watching and monitoring the games and players using apps, it is possible that in the future, the role of the referee and umpire will become obsolete.

Categories: Skill Level 3