Weighing in the refereeing aspect in sports betting

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This is an exclusive topic these days. People talk about fair line, odds’ projection and statistical models but what about refereeing, do you consider it? I do! And I’ll explain it all here today! Once again, we’ll go by parts. Today I bring you a technical article touching on the refereeing aspect, that many don’t speak about nor take into consideration when considering a bet.


It is complicated to define criteria for refereeing these days and even more with the VAR affecting our bets. But then let’s approach this topic delicately and without making any claims, otherwise people will try to argue with me.

Can we put a weight on our fair lines’ tables for refereeing? I’ll answer that right away – no! I wouldn’t risk any of that, I don’t have it, since in my opinion officiating is considered an external aspect. But now you ask, “an external aspect”? Yes, because as impossible as it might seem, I prefer to think like this, as if it was something external that can affect the match. But am I in the wrong here?

Please note, it’s complicated to assess the performances of the referees these days, the choices or nominations are somewhat arbitrary and that doesn’t allow us to create any sort of statistical or comparative model for each referee, right?I’ll still add the following aspect to the equation: the Portuguese referees have been “officiating” abroad, in the Arabic leagues for example. So how can we take something so diverse into consideration?

We can’t, it’s very complicated indeed. However, I believe that those who bet on the cards’ market might know a little bit more than me regarding assessing the referee or the refereeing team., but we’ll get to this later. With performances in different leagues and completely different matches, it’s hard for us to have a “real” impression of the referee’s behaviour and we can still add the fact that if he performs poorly, he might spend several weeks without officiating any match at all.

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Let’s look at Portugal’s case, the Portuguese referees more precisely. We know what referees officiate abroad and I’m not talking about European competitions but I’m including them as well, and then they just officiate either a Liga NOS match or a 2nd division one.

Trying to guess how each match might influence the referee is like trying to guess the Euromillions. Here we don’t have news or criotherapy, nothing, no information regarding how the referee’s week went, nothing, we don’t know, and we just know who it will be.

In fact, most of the times we just know the referee and who will be the VAR on the same day of the match, which leaves us without any options when we want to put a consideration for it on our Fair Lines’ table. Then it’s explained and justified that taking refereeing into consideration is very complicated or even impossible.


What we can keep in mind is the pattern of a referee or a refereeing trio since there are several sports’ websites that already display the number of cards a referee has been showing, for example.

Knowing and understanding the pattern of when they show a yellow card for example might be good to take into consideration betting on the total of cards shown, good for side betting and to understand how fast we might see a red card, which will obviously have an impact in the match.


Even a high amount of yellow cards might hurt the “regular” progression of the match, since a lot of yellow cards means the team has to be more careful, with less tackles and taking less risks and if one hand that can mean unbalance, on the other hand it might help us on our analysis, depending on our entrance in the match.

Expecting an average is what we can do, and adding the “importance” of the match, since for example a derby tends to be more intense, rougher, and therefore have more cards and if we had that to a referee that tends to show a lot of cards, that might have an influence on our analysis.

Those who are used to analysing betting on cards have a tremendous edge here without a doubt when analysing the matches and they will of course be the ideal people to speak about to try and reach a consensus regarding standardization.


We’ve already spoken a little bit about everything, and we didn’t mention the VAR. Having more eyes on the pitch to help in making the best decision, since the motto of the new VAR technology is “helping to bring justice” is something that we cannot quantify, but we can try to find some acting patterns.

For example, VAR makes more interventions in matches of the bigger teams than the smaller ones, VAR is more incisive on the derbies for example. Another remark is that the referee shares the responsibility with the VAR because on certain plays, he might jeopardize his “score” and have a direct impact on the match and even on the final outcome.


This external aspect is truly important to take into consideration these days, because as we’ve been seeing, he might have in theory more power than in others. We, as bettors, will have to know how to assess this aspect more, the VAR aspect. VAR can be helpful for some and be useless for others, some defend it and others are against it, but here my idea is trying to give some “weight” to the VAR and knowing how we can include it on our match analysis process.

Basically, I’ve already gave some tips for you to do it above but keep in mind that it is especially on the practical case of derbies.


Reflection After what I’ve written above, it’s now time to make a slight reflection about not considering this aspect or somehow including it on our fair line’s table or at least give it some importance on our final decision.

I think that, for those who bet on cards, utilizing side bets, it should be included and given a huge weight, since having a statistical foundation at hand will be very important to decide where the value is on the cards’ lines.

On the purely and basic Punter analysis, knowing what that referee will do or who the VAR is might also be, in my opinion, important on our way of seeing and analysing the encounter.


Knowing if it will be a rough match or not, if that referee has the ability to withstand the “pressure” of that specific match is important. Deciding a bet taking into consideration all of these aspects is in fact important these days.

We know that too many yellow cards ruin the matches or have an impact on them and things are even worse with red cards, that completely change the strategy of a team on the pitch.

Another remark that I must make is that, if there is a red card, the team that normally has the advantage in terms of players on the pitch normally don’t adapt that well, but I’ll get there.

TIP: Most teams or managers rarely train this scenario – playing against 10 men!


Utilize the information of the VAR team and the refereeing trio well, try to understand what’s the influence it might have on the match and understand what you can extract from that for the bet you will make. It is important to know what they will or will not do, if they can withstand what the match requires and that is important when selecting our bet.

The suggestion is utilizing a metric for this kind of referee and VAR’s behaviour and utilize them separately. VAR is one thing and the refereeing trio is a different thing. Each one has its weight, but utilize them as metric, only as a guideline and not a decisive aspect.

I’ll explain better now, don’t utilize a scale from 1 to 5, utilize more or less, try to quantify the external intervention the match feels in the best possible way and according the refereeing team or the VAR. Utilizing it as a direction will be the best option you can make on your future analysis.

I think I have been the most explicit possible, it’s complicated to get into details of how to “ponder” about the refereeing on a match or about the VAR, that came to give us even more headaches.


VAR has been showing what football needs the most. If in England the VAR decides by the millimetre, in Portugal it has flaws and in some other leagues it doesn’t even exist. In my opinion as a bettor, it only came to give us more work, because it’s something more we have to consider and ponder before betting.

It’s not enough to just know what each team and player does during the weak, now we must also assess these external aspects.My opinion is simple, a headache, but it’s possible that we can solve it, but of course it forces us to study more and have more knowledge, now not only from the teams but also what that referee usually does or not and if he has nerves of steel.

That’s it for today, I hope you like it because I brought a new topic that had never been discussed here and that has been a hot topic lately, especially considering the VAR that is the new trend.
Good luck and see you next time.

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