Referees play an essential role in most sports, but only a few studies have investigated the experiences of female sports officials. This study aims to identify the reasons why women tend to give up the work of refereeing. Six former female referees were interviewed using a semi-structured approach. The findings show that female officials tend to give up their jobs in Korean football due to the negative attitudes held about them, as reflected in remarks and other behavior; the absence of a peer group or a mentoring system for female referees; work–family conflict, in particular following pregnancy and childcare; and a lack of administrative support. Since both the equality and gynocentric feminist theories are applicable in the context of Korean football, effective management strategies are required in order to empower female referees and enhance their capacities to tackle traditional gender inequalities.
- female referees