In some sports, a referee is a person who has authority to make decisions about play. Also, in normal life, a referee is someone who provides a reference for another person: for example, one's former employers might provide one with a reference when applying for a job.
The term referee originated in football (soccer). Originally the team captains would consult with each other in order to resolve any dispute on the pitch. Eventually this role was delegated to an umpire. Each team would bring their own partisan umpire allowing the team captains to concentrate on the game. Later, the referee, a third "neutral" official was added. The referee would be "referred to" if the umpires could not resolve a dispute. The referee did not take his place on the pitch until 1891, when the umpires became linesmen (now officially called assistant referees). Today, in many amateur football matches, each side will still supply their own partisan assistant referees (still often called club linesmen) to assist the neutral referee appointed by the governing football association.
An association football (soccer) match is presided over by a referee, whom the Laws of the Game give "full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed" (Law 5). The referee is assisted by two assistant referees and possibly by a fourth official.
In cricket, the match referee is an off-field official who only makes judgments concerning the reputable conduct of the game and hands out penalties for breaches of the ICC Cricket Code of Conduct. On-field decisions relevant to the play and outcome of the game itself are handled solely by on-field umpires.
Ohio Referee Sports officials and organizations can have an online presence that is database driven and customizable. http://www.ohioreferee.com
Referee/Umpire Home Page Information about officiating camps, state and local associations, and numerous message boards for baseball, basketball, football, softball, hockey, volleyball, amateur wrestling, soccer, and track and field. http://www.gmcgriff.com/refonline/
Commissaire.net A non-profit resource center for race officials who work at national or international level bicycle races. The site includes monthly e-magazine, resources, discussion, and regional information. http://www.commissaire.net/
Sunstate Track and Field For officials in track and field. Contains information on rules, interpretations, courses, seminars, newsletter, calendar, opportunities, publications, and equipment. http://sunstate.netfirms.com
Officiating Development Alliance A group working to identify and recruit prospective officials through training and incorporation of technology, retention programs, image improvement, and the awareness of the importance of sports officiating. http://www.officiatingdevelopmentalliance.org
AskMen.com - Sports Officiating Sports business article outlining the career opportunities in officiating. http://www.askmen.com/sports/business_60/77_sports_business.html
The Referee Forum Discussion board for UK football referees. Includes bulletin boards, polls and quizzes for and about football referees. http://www.refereeforum.net