Conversations between referees and Var officials could soon be shared with supporters

Conversations between referees and Var officials could soon be shared with fans – Getty Images/Alex Livesey

The Premier League’s new head of refereeing, Howard Webb, hopes matchday conversations between referees and Var officials can soon be shared with fans.

World football rules mean that these conversations cannot yet be broadcast live, but it is possible that they will be re-broadcast and distributed to the media after the match is over.

In-game conversations between officials are often shown in Major League Soccer in the United States, where Webb oversaw officiating before his return to English football earlier this month.

Webb feels there is nothing to hide when it comes to communication between referees and he hopes ‘raising the curtain’ will help demonstrate the professionalism and quality of the Premier League’s top officials.

Webb, now Director of Officiating at Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), is pushing for more transparency and openness as part of his drive to raise the standards of officiating and change the perception of officials in this country.

When asked if conversations between referees and Var officials could be broadcast at some point this season, Webb replied: “Yeah, hopefully we get to that point where we can share some of I think people will find it interesting.

“Even if people don’t agree with the final decision, if people understand the process and the rationale, they’re much more accepting of the decision.

“We’re not going to please everyone. There will probably be a world at some point where this communication is made available. No problem, we have nothing to hide.

“The level of professionalism and the way they communicate is really good here. I can’t wait to pull that curtain back so everyone can see it.

Conversations are ongoing about the possibility of one day broadcasting these conversations live during matches. However, such a move would require clearance from Fifa, world football’s governing body.

Webb, a former chief referee who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, is convinced that using Var technology is beneficial to both the sport and its officials.

“I understand why some decisions cause frustration and resentment”

The 51-year-old said he was still haunted by his infamous failure to show Nigel de Jong a red card in the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands, after the Dutch midfielder had planted his studs in Xabi Alonso’s chest, and wished he could have had help from Var that day.

“In 2010, I missed the clearest red card you’ll ever see,” Webb said. “Looking at it on the screen, in a second I can see it was a clear red card. Obviously I didn’t have that information on the pitch.

“This decision lives with me all the time. Why would I want this? I want to do things well. Why not have the opportunity to rectify it in real time, on the spot? He [Var] is a great tool and we should celebrate it, provided we use it in a way that doesn’t interfere, but enhances. »

Webb was drawn to the English game in part because of the amount of investment that is being invested in improving officiating standards in that country. It was also, he said, a welcome opportunity to return home after six years in the United States, away from his family.

A key part of his new role is to help reduce criticism and abuse of referees. The push for more transparency will be a major part of that strategy, although Webb is wary of casting ‘celebrities’ as senior Premier League officials.

“When it comes to humanizing public servants, it’s about understanding better so they don’t face unfair or unwarranted criticism,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about: creating a better understanding of the work they do and the people they are.

“I know the frustrations. I’ve been to games time and time again where the ref has made a decision and you never hear from the ref or anyone around him and there was some mystery as to why that decision was socket.

“I understand why this sometimes causes frustration and even resentment. If we can find ways to handle this, great. We try to embrace relationships with people outside of refereeing, just to show that we are a bit of an open book and not closed groups of referees who take care of referees.

Webb targets ex-players to become ‘pioneer’ referee

By Sam Dean

Howard Webb, the new head of England’s football referees, hopes to see a former ‘pioneer’ player choose to become a match referee as part of his drive to inspire more people to referee.

Refereeing chiefs in England have always struggled to convince former players to take the whistle after calling time during their playing days, but Webb says any footballer interested in refereeing would be “wholeheartedly” welcomed. ” by the bosses of the sport.

Discussions are ongoing between the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) and the Football Association (FA) to provide a pathway for former players to become referees.

Webb, one of English football’s most successful referees and PGMOL’s new refereeing director, admitted interest in such a step was limited, but is confident a time will soon come when a former player will take the leap.

It is unlikely that a top player would choose to go into officiating, but it is hoped that a lower league footballer will see officiating as a way to stay involved in the game, especially more as arbitration continues to become more professional and lucrative.

“We have to look at how we’re going to get people to officiate,” Webb said. “We have always struggled to involve former players [but] I’m sure someone will want to be a pioneer.

“I don’t expect players who have played at the highest level and have other opportunities to come in. But someone who has had a decent career and has a good knowledge of the game. Can – be in your late twenties, suffering from an injury or whatever.

“I think there is an opportunity for someone to really lead the way and we would wholeheartedly welcome him, with the skills he has acquired during his playing career, provided he has other skills he needs to be successful.”

The pathway from grassroots umpiring to the top of the game has become more streamlined, which Webb hopes will help attract more people to the role. Webb started refereeing in December 1989 and did not make his Premier League debut until October 2003, although he was promoted almost every year.

“You can see why it needed to be streamlined a bit,” Webb said. “You still have to go through the tough yards to gain the experience you need to survive high levels and thrive there.

“There is definitely a collaboration [between the PFA, FA and PGMOL] around that [former players becoming referees]. All academics who go through the academies get an introduction to the laws of the game, they get a qualification on the laws of the game and there is also an introduction to refereeing.

Szymon Marciniak, the referee in the World Cup final between Argentina and France, played as an amateur before becoming a referee. In rugby union, former Harlequins scrum-half Karl Dickson has switched to refereeing since the end of his playing career.

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