Howard Webb: The chief refereeing officer is ‘determined’ that officials do not ‘ignore’ unacceptable behavior.
Howard Webb, the commissioner of referees, says he is “determined” that officials do not “turn a blind eye” to improper behavior by players and coaches this season.
Last weekend saw the beginnings of a campaign to stop the kind of behavior Webb described as “managed” or “ignored” in the past.
Over the first weekend of the EFL season, over double the typical number of yellow cards were issued.
“I am determined that this will not be something you only see in the coming days and weeks,” Webb added.
Following a tackle by Rodri, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was booked for waving an imaginary yellow card during the Community Shield win against Manchester City, while West Brom manager Carlos Corberan has been prosecuted by the FA after being sent off in his side’s opening day defeat at Blackburn.
During a time-wasting crackdown, players were also booked for kicking the ball away.
Podcast for Football Daily: Howard Webb speaks with Mark Chapman.
“People will have to understand that some behaviors that were previously managed or ignored will no longer be managed or ignored,” Webb, the chief refereeing officer for officials’ organisation PGMOL, told BBC Sport.
“It is critical that our officials recognize, understand, and differentiate between emotion and passion, but for far too long, officials have been unable to do so or have turned a blind eye to certain things, perhaps thinking it was the best way to deal with it, not make a fuss, and not draw attention to what may have been perceived as an error on the field.”
“But the power of example is so strong, and all the numbers are pointing in the wrong direction in relation to what’s going on in the game.”
“We see far too many instances of grassroots officials having a negative experience. In our sport, this must alter. We are united in our determination to succeed.”
The authorities believe that if poor behavior at the upper level is not allowed, the message will flow down to the grassroots levels, where officials are in scant supply.
Teams are ‘aware’ of the time-wasting directive.
Long lengths of time have been added to matches at both the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year and the current Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand due to time wasting.
The International Football Association Board (Ifab), football’s lawmakers, announced in January their desire to “create fairer conditions for both teams in terms of the amount of time available in a match” by adding the exact time taken for certain events – such as goals and substitutions – rather than the previous “nominal” amount.
On the first weekend of the EFL, all 35 matches included at least eight additional minutes of action, and numerous 15:00 BST kick-offs on Saturday went far after 17:00.
While many fans in the game support the new time-wasting regulation, some on the front lines have a different opinion.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola argued that there had been no consultation on the strategy’s implementation, which is likely to result in 100-minute matches becoming the norm.
Clearly, being consulted is not the same as being informed, and Webb insists that all clubs were aware of what was coming.
“Ifab is the organization that ratifies changes, and there is a consultation process involved,” he explained. “Of course, when something is confirmed, it falls to us to deliver.
“We have presented and explained to a variety of groups how we intend to use this.” I’ll have completed at least 17 pre-season briefings by the end of this week. People are aware of what is to come.”
VAR explanations in the stadium could be used.
Webb has stated that audio of VAR judgments will be made accessible to the public once a month via the Premier League’s international broadcasting arm.
He wants as many people as possible to hear the audio, even if rights constraints make that difficult.
He is also open to the possibility of referees explaining VAR decisions to stadium spectators if Fifa determines the current trial, which includes the Women’s World Cup, is a success, though he adds: “I’d be keen to make sure that the information is meaningful.”
Webb also stated that he would welcome the adoption of semi-automated offside technology, which the Premier League is considering, and reiterated that there was no issue created by the Premier League’s usage of the Nike ball as opposed to the Adidas ball used in Fifa and Uefa competitions.
Webb also confirmed the return of Lee Mason to the PGMOL ranks.
Mason stepped down as a VAR in February after failing to see an offside in the build-up to Brentford’s equalizer at Emirates Stadium against Arsenal.
He has since returned to Leagues One and Two as a coach for officials.
“We’ve brought in quite a lot of coaches because we’re trying to reduce the ratio, so officials have much more contact with a coach at all levels of the game,” Webb explained.
“Lee is a seasoned official with extensive Premier League experience.” He went through a comprehensive evaluation process.”