Fairness, implicit bias testing and sports refereeing: An argument for why professional sports organisations ought to promote fairness in sport through testing referees for implicit biases

Thomas Søbirk Petersen*, Søren Sofus Wichmann

*Corresponding author

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


Sports referees are not always as unbiased or impartial as they ideally should be. Studies have shown, for example, that in their decisions, referees seem to be biased against people of different race, gender or height or biased in favour of the home team. There is no doubt that such partiality work against official ideals of fairness and non-discrimination in sport. The problem with this is that being affected by implicit biases potentially causes the referees to make unfair decisions, with the result that some people are penalised disproportionately within the realm of sport. In this paper, we argue that sports organisations ought to require referees to undergo implicit bias testing as part of their mandatory training, in order to gain knowledge about biases and to take the proper counter-measures to combat such biases. Finally, we present and critically discuss four objections to our argument and conclude that none of them are plausible.
TidsskriftJournal of the Philosophy of Sport
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)97-110
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - 2021


  • Fairness
  • Refereeing
  • Implicit bias testing

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