Background: An important role of soccer referees is to apply the rules of the game by observing the match closely. Thus, referees have to undertake training to keep up with play and attain an optimal position when making critical decisions. We analyzed the variation of the soccer referee physical performance during official championship. Methods: The referees were classified into three groups according to ages (16–20 years; 21–29 years; 30–45 years) and physical fitness variations were studied at the start (T0), at the middle (T1) and at the end of the competitive season (T2). In each period, Yo–Yo intermittent recovery test level 1 (YYIRT1) and 40 m sprint test were performed and VO2max assessed. Finally, the referees’s rating (i.e. the mean of numerically quantification of the performances received during the season) was also evaluated. Results: The mean distance covered by the referees during the YYIRT1 test increased significantly from T0 to T1 and T2, and from T1 to T2, in all age groups, with a higher effect observed for group 16–20 years in all testing periods. This group significantly improved YYIR1 performance and VO2max at T1and T2. Referee ages correlated with differences (Δ) in running speed test (40 m sprint test), of YYIRT1 and VO2max. Finally, the referees’ rating, based upon training, experience, performance and fitness assigned by qualified officials, ranged from 8.20 to 8.65. A positive correlation was found between the excellent rating and younger age (p = 0.015 by Chi-square test χ = 8.6). Conclusions: The young referees performed better physical performances than adult referees and obtained better assessments by qualified officials.
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