Comparison of the gaze behavior of soccer referees of different levels

Pedro Emílio Drumond Moreira;

Fernanda Nândrea Antunes;

Juan Carlos Pérez Morales;

Sarah da Glória Teles Bredt;

Pablo Juan Greco;

Gibson Moreira Praça;


A referee can achieve a higher level in the career if he/she can develop perceptual-cognitive skills related to expert-performance. We believe that this adaptation may be related to the improvement of their gaze behavior in the search for the relevant cues and quality of the decision making in a game situation. However, this hypothesis has not been tested in referees of national and state-level. The present study aimed to compare the gaze behavior of Brazilian referees of national and state-level through the analysis of the quantity and duration of gaze fixations and the quality of decision making. Nineteen Brazilian soccer referees (16 men and three women) from the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF – national level) and Federação Mineira de Futebol (FMF – state level) participated in the study. Thirteen referees were center referees, while three were assistants. Gaze behavior was analyzed during the visualization of soccer scenes using an Eye-tracking SMI RED500® device. Situations of fouls, enforcement of yellow and red cards, and offside rule were used to analyze the quality of the decision making. An independent t-test was used to compare the gaze behavior variables and the quality of decision making between groups. National referees presented shorter gaze fixations (p = .003; large effect size), but there were no differences for decision making (p = .146; medium effect size). We concluded that Brazilian soccer referees from state and national levels differ in their visual strategies during game situations although that does not influence their quality of decision on rule infractions. The higher efficiency found in higher-level referees is evidenced by their shorter gaze fixations, which suggests they can perceive relevant cues more quickly.

Key Words: Cognition, Decision Making, Perception, Eye Tracking, Performance.

. Comparison of the gaze behavior of

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