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Umpire vs. Referee: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Umpire primarily oversees games like baseball and cricket, focusing on play rulings; Referee officiates sports like soccer and basketball, managing game rules and player conduct.
Umpire vs. Referee

Key Differences

An Umpire is typically associated with sports like baseball and cricket, where they make decisions on specific plays. A Referee is more commonly seen in sports like soccer, basketball, and boxing, where they enforce the rules and maintain discipline.
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Nov 20, 2023
Umpires often operate in a team, with each focusing on different aspects of the game, such as balls and strikes in baseball. Referees generally have broader responsibilities, including timekeeping and player conduct, in addition to play rulings.
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In cricket, an Umpire has a stationary position and makes calls on wickets, boundaries, and legal deliveries. In contrast, a Referee in soccer moves with the play, making calls on fouls, offsides, and issuing penalties.
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Umpires in some sports can refer decisions to video replay for accuracy. Referees, while they can also use technology, often have more autonomy in decision-making, especially in sports without video replay systems.
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Nov 20, 2023
The role of an Umpire can be more specialized based on the sport's specific requirements. Meanwhile, a Referee often needs a broader understanding of the game, including player safety and sportsmanship.
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Nov 20, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Associated Sports

Baseball, Cricket
Soccer, Basketball, Boxing
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Main Responsibilities

Play rulings, such as strikes or outs
Enforcing rules, player conduct, timekeeping
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Positioning in Game

Often stationary or in specific game areas
Moves with the game, following the play
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Decision-Making

Specific to plays, can use video replay
Broader, including fouls and penalties
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Focus

Specific game aspects, e.g., balls or strikes
Overall game flow and safety
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Umpire and Referee Definitions

Umpire

One who enforces rules in a specific area of the field.
The umpire at first base made the call for an out.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 20, 2023

Referee

An official in soccer who calls fouls and penalties.
The referee awarded a penalty kick after the foul.
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Nov 20, 2023

Umpire

An authority in tennis for ensuring fair play.
The umpire overruled the line judge's call.
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Nov 20, 2023

Referee

A boxing official responsible for player safety and rule enforcement.
The referee stopped the boxing match due to a knockout.
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Umpire

An official in baseball who rules on plays.
The umpire called a strike on the last pitch.
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Referee

A sports official who oversees the general conduct of a game.
The referee paused the game to check the video replay.
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Umpire

A cricket official who decides on wickets and boundaries.
The umpire signaled a six after the ball crossed the boundary.
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Referee

The authority in basketball for enforcing game rules.
The referee called a technical foul on the player.
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Nov 20, 2023

Umpire

An official in certain sports who makes rulings on the field.
The umpire called time out to inspect the ball.
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Nov 20, 2023

Referee

An official in charge of maintaining discipline on the sports field.
The referee issued a red card for unsportsmanlike conduct.
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Nov 20, 2023

Umpire

(Sports) A person appointed to rule on plays, especially in baseball.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

One to whom something is referred, especially for settlement, decision, or an opinion as to the thing's quality.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

A person appointed to settle a dispute that mediators have been unable to resolve; an arbitrator.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

Sports & Games An official supervising the play; an umpire.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

To act as referee for; rule or judge.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

(Law) A person appointed by a court to assist a judge in the trying of a case or to hear certain types of cases.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

To be or act as a referee or an arbitrator.
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Referee

To judge as referee.
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Umpire

The official who presides over a tennis match sat on a high chair.
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Referee

To act as referee.
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Umpire

(cricket) One of the two white-coated officials who preside over a cricket match.
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Referee

(sports) An umpire or judge; an official who makes sure the rules are followed during a game.
The referee kicked Jim out of the game for fighting.
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Umpire

(baseball) One of the officials who preside over a baseball game.
The umpire called the pitch a strike.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

A person who settles a dispute.
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Umpire

(American football) The official who stands behind the line on the defensive side or next to the referee on the offensive side.
The umpire must keep on his toes as the play often occurs around him.
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Referee

(UK) A person who writes a letter of reference or provides a reference by phone call for someone. US English: reference.
Your application, along with letters from three referees, should be received by January 31.
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Umpire

(Australian rules football) A match official on the ground deciding and enforcing the rules during play. As of 2007 the Australian Football League uses three; in the past there were two or just one. The other officials, the goal umpires and boundary umpires, are usually referred to by those phrases.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

An expert who judges the manuscript of an article or book to decide if it should be published.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

(law) A person who arbitrates between contending parties.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

To act as a referee.
He has to referee three hockey games this weekend.
She has to finish refereeing an article for Nature.
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Umpire

(curling) The official who presides over a curling game.
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Referee

One to whom a thing is referred; a person to whom a matter in dispute has been referred, in order that he may settle it.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

To act as an umpire in a game.
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Referee

(sports) the chief official (as in boxing or American football) who is expected to ensure fair play
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Umpire

(transitive) To decide as an umpire.
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Referee

Someone who reads manuscripts and judges their suitability for publication
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Umpire

A person to whose sole decision a controversy or question between parties is referred; especially, one chosen to see that the rules of a game, as cricket, baseball, or the like, are strictly observed.
A man, in questions of this kind, is able to be a skillful umpire between himself and others.
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Oct 19, 2023

Referee

An attorney appointed by a court to investigate and report on a case
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Umpire

A third person, who is to decide a controversy or question submitted to arbitrators in case of their disagreement.
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Referee

Be a referee or umpire in a sports competition
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Umpire

To decide as umpire; to arbitrate; to settle, as a dispute.
Judges appointed to umpire the matter in contest between them, and to decide where the right lies.
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Referee

Evaluate professionally a colleague's work
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Umpire

To perform the duties of umpire in or for; as, to umpire a game.
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Oct 19, 2023

Umpire

To act as umpire or arbitrator.
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Umpire

An official at a baseball game
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Umpire

Be a referee or umpire in a sports competition
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What's the main role of a referee in soccer?

To enforce rules, call fouls, and ensure fair play.
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What technology aids do referees use?

In various sports, referees use video replay technology to review and make decisions.
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What sports typically use umpires?

Umpires are common in baseball, cricket, and tennis.
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Nov 20, 2023

How do referees contribute to player safety?

They enforce rules that protect players from unsafe play and injuries.
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Can umpires issue penalties?

In baseball and cricket, umpires don't typically issue penalties but make play rulings.
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Do umpires move around the field?

In baseball, umpires have specific positions; they're less mobile than soccer referees.
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How does a referee control a basketball game?

By calling fouls, violations, and managing the game clock.
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Can umpires make decisions on fouls?

In sports like baseball, umpires make decisions more on plays rather than fouls.
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Nov 20, 2023

Are umpires used in tennis?

Yes, tennis uses umpires for overseeing matches and ensuring rules are followed.
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Nov 20, 2023

Are umpires trained differently from referees?

Their training focuses on the specific rules and play styles of the sports they officiate.
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Which sports have referees?

Soccer, basketball, boxing, and rugby often use referees.
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Nov 20, 2023

What qualifications are needed to be a referee?

Referees typically require a deep understanding of the game, physical fitness, and often specific certifications.
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How does a referee contribute to the flow of a soccer game?

By making quick and accurate decisions, a referee helps maintain the pace and continuity of the game.
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Nov 20, 2023

Can umpires eject players from the game?

In baseball, umpires have the authority to eject players or coaches for serious rule violations.
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Do referees interact with players?

Yes, referees often communicate with players to manage the game and enforce rules.
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Do referees have assistants?

In many sports, referees have assistant referees or linesmen to help make decisions.
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What's a third umpire in cricket?

A third umpire assists with making decisions using video replays and technology.
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Is an umpire's decision final in cricket?

Generally, yes, but some decisions can be reviewed using technology like the Decision Review System (DRS).
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Can umpires use instant replay in baseball?

Yes, Major League Baseball allows umpires to use replay for certain types of plays.
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Do referees need to maintain physical fitness?

Yes, especially in fast-paced sports like soccer and basketball, physical fitness is crucial for referees.
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Nov 20, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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