Assessed refereeing decision (Sports Coverage)


  • Catharina Vögele
  • Markus Schäfer



sports coverage, news selection


The variable "Assessed refereeing decision" refers to the question which decisions of referees are rated in media reports on football matches. It is coded which decisions made by referees (f. ex. penalty kicks, sending-offs or offside decisions) are assessed and how they are rated.


Field of application/theoretical foundation:

Ratings of refereeing decisions are omnipresent in the media coverage of football matches. They can be expressed either in live commentaries on football matches or in post-match reports and match analyses. When reporting on football matches, journalists are faced with the question which events during a match are worth reporting. Therefore, they face the challenge of having to make numerous selection decisions. In addition to the performance of players and teams on the pitch, the referees and their decisions can also influence the course and outcome of the game (e.g. Weston, Drust, Atkinson & Gregson, 2011). Concerning journalistic selection decisions, on the other hand, various factors can be important, such as the attitudes of the journalists, routines in media organizations or general journalistic rules (e.g. Donsbach, 1987, Weischenberg, 1992). In order to understand why journalists make which selection decisions, it is first important to identify which decisions they make and thus which refereeing decisions are rated and how they are rated.


References/combination with other methods of data collection:

In order to find out which refereeing decisions journalists select and discuss, an input-output analysis can be used to compare the refereeing decisions selected by journalists and all refereeing decisions made in the course of the match. Such a comparison with extra-media data makes it possible to identify which decisions are reported particularly frequently. In addition, the combination of content analytical results and surveys of referees and sports journalists is useful to identify reciprocal effects of media coverage of referees on the referees themselves (see Schäfer & Eschmann, 2019) and to ask sports journalists about the factors influencing their selection decisions. 


Example study:

Vögele and Schäfer (2019) analyzed the coverage of referees in the German Bundesliga in tv match reports on the ARD Sportschau. For this purpose, they examined the ratings of referees in a total of 591 match reports in the seasons 2011/12 to 2017/18. For each rating of a referee, they recorded the main object of the refereeing evaluation (main referee, video assistant, assistant etc.), the tendency of the rating, the originator of the rating (commentator, actors of the participating associations etc.) as well as the requested or proposed alternative decision, in addition to the assessed refereeing decision. The reliability score of the coding for the assessed refereeing decision was an acceptable Krippendorff's Alpha of .91 (Holsti=.93; two coders*). The category "assessed refereeing decision" was described as follows (The complete codebook for analysis is available at:


Bewertete Schiedsrichterentscheidung

In dieser Kategorie wird erfasst, welche Schiedsrichterentscheidung der Bewertung der Schiedsrichter*innen zu Grunde liegt. Die Schiedsrichterentscheidungen sind dabei eingeteilt in Vergehen, persönliche Strafen und Spielfortsetzungen. Im Normalfall sollte immer die jeweilige detaillierte Ausprägung bei der Codierung erfasst werden. Kritisiert der Kommentator also beispielsweise, dass der Schiedsrichter einen Strafstoß gegeben hat, wird hier Strafstoß als bewertete Schiedsrichterentscheidung codiert. Stellt der Kommentator fest, dass der Schiedsrichter eine gelbe Karte zu Unrecht vergeben hat, wird gelbe Karte codiert.

Ist allgemein davon die Sprache, dass der Schiedsrichter viele Fehlentscheidungen getroffen hat, wird bei dieser Kategorie die Ausprägung 0 „Entscheidungen allgemein“ codiert.

0          keine spezielle Entscheidung, sondern Entscheidungen allgemein

10        Vergehen

11        Foulspiel

12        Handspiel

13        Tätlichkeit

14        Unsportlichkeit

15        Abseits

20        persönliche Strafe

21        Verwarnung/gelbe Karte

22        gelb-rote Karte

23        rote Karte

24        Ermahnung

30        Spielfortsetzung

31        Vergabe Strafstoß

32        Ausführung Strafstoß

33        Wiederholung Strafstoß

34        Vergabe Freistoß

35        Ausführung Freistoß

36        Wiederholung Freistoß

37        Vergabe Eckball

38        Ausführung Eckball

39        Vergabe Einwurf

40        Ausführung Einwurf

41        Schiedsrichterball

42        Weiterspielen

43        Anspiel/Tor

44        Abpfiff/Spielende

45        Abstoß

46        Halbzeitpfiff

99        Sonstige Entscheidung: _______________



Donsbach, W. (1987). Journalismusforschung in der Bundesrepublik. Offene Fragen trotz ‚Forschungsboom‘. In J. Wilke (Hrsg.), Zwischenbilanz der Journalistenausbildung (S. 105-142). München: Ölschläger.

Weischenberg, S. (1992). Journalistik. Theorie und Praxis aktueller Medienkommunikation. Band 1. Opladen: Westdeutscher.

Weston, M., Drust, B., Atkinson, G., & Gregson, W. (2011). Variability of soccer referees' match performances. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(3), 190-194.

Vögele, C., & Schäfer, M. (2019). Fußball-Schiedsrichter im Spiegel der Medien: Die Berichterstattung über Bundesliga-Schiedsrichter in der ARD-Sportschau. Journal für Sportkommunikation und Mediensport, 4(1), 1-24. Verfügbar unter:



How to Cite

Vögele, C., & Schäfer, M. (2021). Assessed refereeing decision (Sports Coverage). DOCA - Database of Variables for Content Analysis, 1(2).



News/Journalism: Variables for Content Analysis