Climate May Impact Referee's Decisions

June 11, 2012; 8:06 AM
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United States' Michael Bradley, right, protests after referee Koman Coulibaly disallowed a goal during the World Cup group C soccer match between Slovenia and the United States at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday, June 18, 2010. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

A study by researchers at the University of Bedfordshire in Bedfordshire, UK., found that referees officiating football (soccer) games may experience difficulty making decisions under hot or cold conditions.

The study found referees and linesmen experienced impaired physical performance and decision making when conditions were hot, according to Cold temperatures were found to have a similar effect.

There is concern the referees of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar, may experience extreme high temperatures. The average temperature for Doha, Qatar in June is 105.8 degrees F (41 degrees C).

In the report, Director of Sports Professor John Brewer said, "pre-match and half time cooling in hot conditions would lessen the chance of a referee making a mistake."

Referees officiating in cold climate games seen during the Championships and Europa leagues, should be allowed to wear additional clothing, Brewer recommends. He also suggests allowing four referees rather than the usual two. The referees would only officiate the games for 45 minutes.

"When matches are played in extremely hot and cold conditions, the football (soccer) authorities should observe the physical condition of match officials to ensure they are able to continue officiating effectively which may include measuring body temperature at half time," Brewer stated in the report.

Controversial calls made by referee Koman Coulibaly during the 2010 FIFA World Cup playoff game between the U.S. and Slovenia June 18, 2010 in Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, may be the result of cooler temperatures than he was normally accustomed to.

Coulibaly is native of Mali. Mali is located in the northwestern part of Africa, in the Northern Hemisphere. The game he was officiating in the 2010 World Cup playoffs was being played in Johannesburg, in the Southern Hemisphere near the south-central part of Africa.

"The temperature in Johannesburg during the match reached a high temperature of 56 degrees F (13 degrees C). In Mali, the average temperature in June is in the low to mid-90s," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey. "Coulibaly is accustomed to temperatures that are seldom below 90 degrees F (about 32 degrees C)."

"Florida, located at a latitude similar to Mali, has an average high temperature in June of about 88 degrees F," said Duffey.

The FIFA World Cup games of 2014 and 2018 will be played in Brazil and Russia respectively. The average June temperature in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil is 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and the average June temperature for Moscow, Russia is 63 degrees F (17 degrees C). These locations seem to have moderate temperatures in June that could be good for the referees.

View Larger MapQatar, shown on this map, will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.


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