Buidling Dreams Together


The lack of Diversity in the PGMOL and within top level matchday officials

A look into the PGMOL and the cause of the lack of diversity among officials

Amidst the chaos that has been VAR apologies and media reviews of VAR decisions, the PGMOL has been mentioned more than ever and has become somewhat synonymous with top-level football in England, yet among the criticism they have faced who they actually are and what that means has been somewhat overlooked. The PGMOL are the organisation responsible for overseeing the appointment and performance of referees and assistant referees in professional football matches in England. It operates under the control of The Football Association (FA). It oversees match officials for competitions such as the Premier League, the English Football League (EFL), cup competitions and most recently the Women’s Super League (WSL). For an organisation with so much reach and power, diversity within everything from the hiring team to the onfield matchday officials is crucial. It should be the cornerstone of their operations to foster an environment where talent flourishes regardless of background, ethnicity, gender, or any other defining characteristic. Yet this has been far from reality for the PGMOL who in the 2021-22 season had no non-white referees in either the championship or Premier League. Has this improved in the couple of years since that season? Very marginally, despite multiple diversity initiatives that they have set out, including one which partnered with “Kick it Out” there have still only ever been two black referees in the premier league and those came 15 years apart from each other which is approximately 5700 Premier league games.

What about other branches of diversity? Well, despite organisations such as FIFA being able to have a 39% representation of women in their 2024 matchday officials list the PGMOL is still yet to catch up in this area with only one woman out of the 26 Premier League matchday officials in 2024 which is strange considering that the WSL can manage to have 63% of matchday officials who are female so there is not a lack of availability of women in officiating.

So is the lack of diversity caused by just choosing the right person for the job?

In short, No. There have been many claims of discrimination, particularly against Referee Observers one of whom is Michael Ewen who had two previous incidents of abusive/ insulting language which the FA said breached their E3(2) rule which used language referencing “Race and/or Nationality and/or Ethnicity”, these two incidents were punished by just a sixteen-week suspension and an FA education programme, which seems to begin to set out a clearer picture as to why the PGMOL lack diversity, when the people choosing who become referees have a clear bias and are punished with such seeming disproportionately mild consequences.

This leniency not only undermines the integrity of the disciplinary process but also sends a troubling message from within the organisation. the PGMOL has a duty to lead by example and set a precedent that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated.The PGMOL need to set instone a zero tolerance policy starting within their organisation and ending with fans and spectators. Football is a sport that trancends Race, gender, religion and sexual orientation and matchday officials should reflect this diversity, which will lead to better less biased outcomes on the pitch and will lead to inspiring the next generation of officials to pursue their dreams.

E spiers 2024