Aussie research wins FIFA scholarship
An Australian study into how soccer referees communicate their decisions and player reaction to those calls has won a prestigious scholarship from the sport's international governing body, FIFA.
Peter Simmons, a lecturer at the Charles Sturt University (CSU) school of communication, is the first Australian to win a Joao Havelange international research scholarship.
His study, entitled Justice, Culture and Football Referee Communication, will test player reactions to different referee communication styles in Australia, Malaysia and Spain.
"Most football scholars look at player performance, coaching or hooliganism," Simmons said.
"My research aims to assist referee training by systematically examining referee behaviours that calm players or inflame them unnecessarily.
"The results will be applicable in other sports, and also to people working in areas like teaching, customer service or policing that require them to communicate decisions."
Simmons said the best referees were acutely aware of the signals they sent to players with their voice, gestures, expression and attire.
"Referees debate the most effective way to signal for a foul or give a yellow card, but there is very little evidence," he said.
The survey of Australian players' reactions to different communication styles will continue until the end of March and Simmons plans to complete his research in Malaysia and Spain later this year.
FIFA has awarded the Joao Havelange scholarship to a handful of research projects around the world each year since 2000.
Each project is selected for its potential impact on the sport.
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