Shorter Referees Give Out More Yellow And Red Cards According To Research
It looks like short man syndrome is something that affects English football with shorter referees more likely to give out yellow and red cards than their taller colleagues.
Footballers across the top four tiers in England will be making sure they eye up the referee before kick off to work out how likely they are to get a booking after the study by Northumbria University.
The study, reported in BMC Psychology, monitored the behaviour of 61 male referees in Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two and showed that refs under 6ft give out 20% more yellows than taller officials.
The universities' Dr Nick Neave said "Shorter referees issued more yellow cards and, in lower leagues, more reds and penalties.
"This reflects referees overcompensating for a lack of perceived dominance."
Based on the data from the 2017/18 season referees at the Premier League average of 5"10 gave an average of three bookings a game whilst Jon Moss and Mike Jones, 5"7 and 5"8 respectively, showed an average of 3.7 and 3.6 bookings a game.
Shorter referees in League One and League Two were most likely to give out red cards, there was less difference in the Championship but the pattern still remained the same.
However in the Premier League it seems that taller referees are actually more likely to give out red cards than their shorter counterparts, does anyone know how tall Mike Dean is?
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Taller officials in the top two divisions are also more likely to award penalties whilst spot kicks in the lower divisions are more likely to be awarded by short refs.
The study goes on to discuss why their may be a difference in refereeing by taller and shorter officials, saying, "It is possible that the more punitive behaviour by shorter referees in the lower leagues reflects greater incidence of punishable behaviour by the players (who may be less likely to view shorter referees as an authority figure).
"Indeed, researchers have proposed that taller football referees are subject to less challenging behaviour from the players, which would reduce their need to mete out punishments.
"Another possible explanation is that because shorter males may lack the social dominance naturally afforded to taller males, they have to 'stamp' their authority and behave more punitively than would otherwise be expected."
The morale of this story is make sure you know how tall the referee is before making a 50/50 challenge or talking back to the man in black.