Referee Terms

Match official(s)

General term for person or persons responsible for controlling a football match on behalf of a football association and/or competition under whose jurisdiction the match is played


The main match official for a match who operates on the field of play. Other match officials operate under the referee’s control and direction. The referee is the final/ultimate decision-maker

Other match officials:

‘On-field’ match officials
Competitions may appoint other match officials to assist the referee:

  • Assistant referee
    A match official with a flag positioned on one half of each touchline to assist the referee particularly with offside situations and goal kick/corner kick/ throw-in decisions
  • Fourth official
    A match official with responsibility for assisting the referee with both on-field and off-field matters, including overseeing the technical area, controlling substitutes etc.
  • Additional assistant referee (AAR)
    A match official positioned on the goal line to assist the referee particularly with situations in/around the penalty area and goal/no-goal decisions
  • Reserve assistant referee
    Assistant referee who will replace an assistant (and, if competition rules permit, a fourth official and/or AAR) who is unable to continue

‘Video’ match officials (VMOs)
These are the VAR and AVAR who assist the referee in accordance with the Laws of the Game and the VAR protocol:

  • Video assistant referee (VAR)
    A current or former referee appointed to assist the referee by communicating information from replay footage only in relation to a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in one of the reviewable categories
  • Assistant video assistant referee (AVAR)
    A current or former referee/assistant referee appointed to assist the video assistant referee (VAR)