The Fox 40 continues to be the best selling whistle.

Andreas Klee, Managing Director of b+d-Allzweck-Sportartikel

FOX 40 - the instrument of the referees
From a plain whistle to the Fox 40

Hardly any referee still uses a plain whistle in the match. Most referees now use the Fox 40 from Canada - in leagues ranging from the Bundesliga to Kreisliga B.

DFB-Schiedsrichter-Zeitung interviewed Andreas Klee, Managing Director of b+d-Allzweck-Sportartikel.

Read in the following what Andreas has to report interesting to the title topic "whistle, the instrument of the referee". By the way, the DFB-Schiedsrichter-Zeitung is also available for download at download at

Mr. Klee, do you know a German manufacturer of referee whistles?
Andreas: I've been with the company here for 25 years, but even before the fall of the Berlin Wall, there was no one in the old FRG. In the meantime, almost every referee has a product from Fox 40 International from Canada.

There's a funny story about why the owner of Fox 40 invented the whistle ...
Andreas: Right. Ron Foxcroft, that's his name, not only has a big trucking company in Hamilton, Ontario, but he was also a well-known basketball referee. And when he was whistling at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the ball got stuck in his whistle during the final of all things - presumably because of the moisture that had collected in it. As a result, he developed a ball-free three-chamber whistle made of high-quality plastic.

How many whistles do you sell from this manufacturer per year and to where?
Andreas: About 250,000, sold all over the world. Everywhere where football, handball, volleyball, field hockey and basketball is being played.

Which product is particularly in demand?
Andreas: The best-selling whistle is still the Fox 40 Classic in black. It costs around eight Euros.

Is it also available in other colors?
Andreas: Exactly, in eleven colors. Red and yellow, for example. Referees like to match them to their jersey color. But the Fox 40 is most often ordered in black.

Do other users besides referees buy such whistles?
Andreas: Definitely. Deutsche Bahn still likes to buy the metal whistle model. But they are almost the only ones. Otherwise, lots of Fox whistles go to North America, where the entire outdoor sector orders them. Many backpack manufacturers include them so users can send a signal in an emergency. The same is true for the marine and boat sectors. Even when diving, the Fox 40 works: if you blow into it underwater, you can make a sound.

What accessories are purchased with?
Andreas: Very often a lan yard is ordered with it. There are wrist whistle cords or sweatbands with a snap hook to which the whistle can be attached. The whistle with a finger strap is used almost exclusively in ice hockey. Referees there wear the whistle on two fingers: the middle and ring finger. Many football referees have two whistles attached to a ring when on the field. This is easier to hold than just one whistle on its own. And if one whistle should not work, you immediately have a replacement whistle in your hand.

The Fox 40 should not be operated in the immediate vicinity of the ear ...
Andreas: The manufacturer has specifically put a warning that you should not use it to whistle closer than about a meter from a person's ear, because otherwise the eardrum could burst. The whistle can produce a value of 115 decibels. This sudden volume is roughly comparable to the takeoff of a jet. This can be dangerous.

But nothing happens to the referee himself when he blows the whistle ...
Andreas: No, this is precisely controlled from the environment. The sound waves are directed forward and to the side through the air chambers and run concentrically away from the whistler. We recommend that people who go jogging at night carry such a whistle with them, just in case. Or if you're being harassed on the phone, you should blow your whistle hard to stop the other party from calling you.

FOX 40 CLASSIC BLACK - the classic on the playing field
Photo: Jakob Reiche - Instagram @foto_schiri_sport

Are there major differences on the global referee whistle market?
Andreas: No. We still have a Spanish model of a whistle in our range, which is also quite popular. The English, on the other hand, prefer to whistle with "their" brand. ACME. There was or is also the Italian Balilla. But 90 percent of the referees now have the Fox 40.

Do you also equip the referees at European and World Championships with it?
Andreas: Of course. Each of them receives a small package from us free of charge for the tournament, which, in addition to the whistle, contains note cards and yellow and red cards, among other things. There's a nice anecdote about that ...

Tell us this one.
Andreas: In the run-up to the 2006 World Cup, we included a gold-plated whistle in the package for the nominated referees. You can have it engraved, and it makes a good gift. The Japanese referee, however, officiated his first game with just such a whistle - and did so very well. The result: the whole nation was upside down! The next day, our phone rang off the hook, and everyone wanted one of these whistles. That's what you call modern "product placement"!

Would you agree with me if I said that the decisive factor in a referee's whistle is the referee who blows it, not the device?
Andreas: In principle, yes. Every referee is only as good as his whistle. The whistle itself with its signal only provides him with the platform. So the impartial "speaks" with his whistle. Players should know what is going on through his whistle.

Nevertheless, the whistle remains a niche product. Will there still be changes?
Andreas: It's interesting that the Corona pandemic has suddenly created demand for an electronic whitle, that has had a niche existence for a long time is suddenly in demand.

How does it work?
Andreas: It's about the size of a thicker Edding pen. The "electronic whistle" is battery-powered and has a speaker. I can set what kind of sound I want. I push a button for that. It sounds almost like a real whistle.

Is it already in use?
Andreas: Especially in handball, even in the Bundesliga. The handball association has said: We are an indoor sport, there is an increased emission of aerosols when the whistle is blown and that does not comply with the usual hygiene rules. That's why they switched to the electric whistle.

Is that the only change that the Corona pandemic has brought?
Andreas: No. There are now also mouth-nose protection cloth masks with a separate pouch for the whistle on the front. These are mainly used in basketball, where the referees almost always keep their whistles in their mouths. This looks quite funny ... In addition, there are now own small cloth bags for the conventional whistles, which can be closed with a Velcro fastener. So the whistle is safely packed - comparable with a microphone at a interview - and hopefully safe from the corona virus?

Source: SCHIEDSRICHTER ZEITUNG 02/2021 (March/April)
Photos: Jakob Reiche / b+d-Allzweck Sportartikel

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