You might think yourself football savvy - after all, you spend so much time explaining the offside trap to others that you may as well teach the rules of the game professionally, right? Well if we asked you to describe the role of each of the four officials that officiate the game, it's probably safe to say you might start stumbling over your words. For a job role that we take for granted, we should probably take more care into learning a few of the intricacies of what a referee's role actually is.

Besides sharing the same fashion sense - all having to wear the same black or luminous colours as their uniform - the role of each of the four officials couldn't be more different... with exception to the two linesman who have pretty much exactly the same job on either side of the pitch. So, let's start off with the most important and work our way down.

The Referee

The head honcho of the four, the referee has the most responsibility of the four officials brought in to officiate the match. They are armed with a whistle as well as a spray can to mark where players should stand on set pieces - don't worry, the mark dissolves. They must also check the football nets are intact and of a good quality before the match begins.

They have the power to pause the game whenever they believe unfair play has taken place, either on the pitch or on rare occasions when there is trouble in the stands. This will usually result in him awarding a free kick or a penalty to the team that has been wronged. The ref can also stop the game and call it off altogether if things suddenly become untenable, such as, an outbreak of fighting that can't be solved or a bit of snow happens to fall on the pitch - you can probably guess which situation happens more.

The referee also has the power to book players, whereby they either receive a yellow card (a warning) or a red card (a sending off). If a player accumulates two yellow cards it's an automatic sending off. They can also send a manager off to the stands, which is always a great laugh.

The Linesmen

 article about What Do All Those Referees Actually Do?

Standing on opposite sides of the field and responsible for one half of the pitch each, both linesmen follow the game across the touchline and raise their flag anytime they see a problem.

They can raise their flag if a ball goes out of play, a player is fouled. They often catch fouls that a referee has missed, although the ref can also overrule them if they also saw the incident and they do not believe it to be a foul.

If a player is offside - past the last defender of the opposite team before the ball is passed to him - then the linesman can also flag to give a free kick to the opposing team. To make sure that they can accurately judge this, the linesman must try to stay level with the last defender to make sure their judgement is as accurate as possible.

The Fourth Official

The most obscure of the four officials, the fourth official is responsible for keeping time of all stoppages of play that happen throughout the game, so that he can accurately measure how much time needs to be added on at the end of each half.

They are also the main form of communication between the managers on the touchline and the referee on the pitch, so decisions can be explained without having to stop time. It is because of this that both officials are equipped with an earpiece so they can talk with each other.

The fourth official must also check the equipment of all players brought on for substitutions and keep track of which players are on the pitch through recording their numbers on the board.