Body Language Part 1

Since I had a go at presenting a session on Referee Body Language, I have had a lot of interesting insight into the topic and thought I would share. This post is far too long to continue in one-go so I will present it in a series.

What is Body language?

Before you can make any use of this post, you need to of course, understand what body language is! Hmmm… Most people find it quite hard to describe from the general consensus of people I asked. From Wikipedia which is a good description, I presented:

Body language is a form of mental and physical ability of human non-verbal communication, consisting of body posture, gestures, facial expressions, and eye movements.

FIFA’s Instruction

Notice that we cannot hear a single word that the referees are saying yet we understand what they are doing simply through their body language. It’s a great video directly on the LOTG section’s excerpt borrowed from the Guidelines to Referees.

On a side note, imagine if there were no vuvuzelas. The above video would almost be silent for the most part!

Refereeing Assistance Program (RAP)

The nine questions that FIFA’s Refereeing Assistance Program (RAP) asks us to consider when analysing and considering our own body language are:

  1. Does the referee show signs of uncertainty?
  2. Does the referees body language show confidence or alertness?
  3. Is the referee slow to react following an incident?
  4. Has the referees actions inflamed the situation?
  5. Has the referee remained calm and in control?
  6. Has the referee been influenced into taking disciplinary action?
  7. Does the referee make an appropriate use of the whistle?
  8. Does the referee make an appropriate use of the cards?
  9. Does the referee make the signals according to the guidelines for referees?


Below are a few examples to take a look at where referees use body language. I watched a great number of matches to identify and pluck these videos out. All rights belong to UEFA CL, BPL & MLS.

Notice how body language is used and bear in mind the nine considerations set out above by FIFA RAP. I recommend watching the video once with sound and then without to focus on the body language. The foul/misconduct is simply there to identify the level/type of body language used by the referee and to analyse how effective it was. Click on the names to view the videos.

An example of lack of ideal body language (although hard to come by) came up not too long ago in the news.

What are your thoughts?

Assistant Referee Body Language

Body language is important in any role of refereeing whether it be the referee, assistant referee, fourth official or even additional assistant referee! Particular reference here to assistant refereeing as flag technique and posture contribute to the assistant referee’s use of body language.

Take a look at this short excerpt from ‘Kill the Referee’ of Darren Cann practicing his flag technique and ensuring his body language is appropriate prior to a Euro 2008 match.


3 comments on “Body Language Part 1

  1. Great topic…I would like to re-blog this if you don’t mind.
    Also…would interesting to see a presentation on PLAYER body language. I think that is even more helpful when dealing with match incidents and game situations. 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on Third Blind Mouse and commented:
    In the spirit of being a little lazy today, here is a FANTASTIC post from my good friend L’Arbitre on Body Language. Enjoy!

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