Howard Webb wants greater VAR transparency in Premier League

Howard Webb said he wanted more openness about his decision-making after taking over as Premier League’s chief referee.

Webb, the former Premier League official who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, has left the same role at Major League Soccer’s professional refereeing organization to return to England, taking up the role of chief refereeing officer at PGMOL from 1 December. .

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“My biggest role is to take some of the learning on board from my time away from the English game, apply some of that in terms of mentoring and coaching, and try to change the perception a bit and be more transparent and open,” said Webb. “Not everything we’ve done in Major League Soccer will work here, it’s a different environment, but some things will work.

“We want to connect with people and manage expectations a little bit better than I think could have been done before, and be receptive to feedback.”

Webb added, “At the moment there is clearly a sense that the perception could be better, the level of transparency could be better.”

The voice between the VAR and the referee is issued by MLS every week, and while this won’t happen instantly in the Premier League, it is something Webb is working towards.

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“Hopefully we’ll get to the point where we can share some audio recordings,” Webb said. “Even if people don’t necessarily agree with the final decision, people can understand the process and the rationale and be more accepting of the decision.

“We’re not going to please and please everyone, some decisions divide opinion. You have decisions that are clearly right, decisions that are clearly wrong, and then this gray area of ​​subjectivity where people form an opinion.”

Webb replaces Mike Riley as part of a revamp of PGMOL, the organization that controls refereeing in England. They are part of a new leadership group that also includes Daniel Avery (Director of Operations), Dr Steve McNally (Director of Performance Support) and former Bristol City, Swindon Town and Tranmere Rovers striker Dr Wayne Allison (Director of Coaching) who will implement the Elite Referee Development Scheme to improve standards.

Former rugby league referee and video referee Phil Bentham has also been named coach of the Premier League’s VAR system.

Webb hopes the changes he’s making will give referees the confidence to stick to their decision on VAR review, when necessary. The Premier League said that of the 48 VAR tackles this season, six were incorrect. It could have been prevented had the referee refused to review on screen.

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“I saw the benefits of Phil, who came in to really work on their connections,” said Webb. “We will probably be in a world at some point where that communication will be provided, no problem because we have nothing to hide. And the level of professionalism, the way they communicate, is really, really good.”

“My job is to give as much input as possible to ensure we get more consistency about the question VARs are being asked to ask themselves: Was it an obvious mistake. They will correct that opinion more than a mistake, but sometimes they can misuse it and that’s why In that the referee should have the right when he goes to the screen to say ‘Thank you, I appreciate the opportunity but in my opinion I didn’t make a clear and obvious mistake.’ So this is where we have to do a lot of management.”

Webb also said that PGMOL is keen to create a better path for former players to become referees. Two of the current Premier League officials started out as professional players before switching to refereeing, Simon Hooper (Swindon) and Darren England (Barnsley).

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“It’s a great way to stay involved in the game and we need to look at how we can get people to referee,” Webb said. “We’ve always struggled to get ex-players on board. I’m sure someone out there would want to be a pioneer, someone who played in the Football League.

“I don’t expect players who have played at the highest level to come in and have other opportunities. But somebody who’s had a good career and has a good knowledge of the game. Maybe late 20s, injured or whatever it may be, I think there’s an opportunity for someone to carve a way in.” We will welcome them wholeheartedly, with the skills they have picked up from their footballing careers, provided they have the other skills they need to be successful.

“You can’t go beyond the basic experience that you need but you can build on what experience they’ve already gained in the game, through play or whatever their role is, and build on that as fast as you can and get them there as fast as you can, and that will entice people to come in.”


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