Howard Webb wants more VAR transparency in the Premier League

Howard Webb has said he wants more openness in decision-making after taking over as Premier League chief referee.

Webb, a former Premier League manager who took charge of the 2010 World Cup final, left the same role at Major League Soccer’s Professional Refereeing Organization to return to England, taking over as director of referees. of PGMOL as of December 1st. .

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

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

Webb added: “As it stands at the moment, there’s clearly a feeling that perception could be better and the level of transparency could be better.”

Audio between VAR and referee is released by MLS every week, and while this won’t happen immediately in the Premier League, it’s something Webb is working on.

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

“We’re not going to cater and please everyone, some decisions divide opinion. You have clearly right decisions and clearly wrong decisions, 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 arbitration in England. He is part of a new leadership group that also includes Danielle Every (Director of Operations), Dr Steve McNally (Director of Performance Support) and former Bristol City, Swindon Town and Tranmere Rovers striker Dr Wayne Allison (Head Coach) who will implement the Elite Referee Development Plan to improve standards.

Former rugby league referee and video referee Phil Bentham has also been appointed VAR coach for the Premier League.

Webb hopes that the changes he is implementing will give referees the confidence to uphold their decision in a VAR review, when necessary. The Premier League has said that of 48 VAR interventions this season, six were incorrect; these could have been avoided if the referee had rejected the review on the monitor.

“I’ve seen the benefits of Phil coming in to really work on his communication,” Webb said. “We’ll probably be in a world at some point where that communication will be available, no problem as we have nothing to hide. And the level of professionalism and the way they communicate is already really good.”

“My job is to do everything I can to ensure we get more consistency around the question VARs are asked to ask themselves: was it clearly wrong? They’ll get that opinion right more often than wrong, but occasionally they may lose it.” and that is why the referee has to have the right when he comes on the screen to say ‘thank you, I appreciate the opportunity but in my opinion I have not made a clear and obvious mistake’. So that’s where we have to do a lot of the management.”

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

“It’s a great way to stay involved in the game and we need to see how we’re going to attract people to referee,” Webb explained. “We’ve always had trouble getting former players involved. I’m sure someone will want to be a trailblazer, someone who has played in the Football League.”

“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. Maybe in their 20s, suffering with an injury or whatever, I think there’s an opportunity for someone to really blaze a trail and we would welcome them wholeheartedly, with the skills they’ve gained from their playing career, as long as they have the other skills they need to succeed.

“You can’t overlook the basic experience you need, but you can credit what they already have in experience in the game, playing or whatever their role is, and build on that as quickly as you can and get them there as quickly as possible.” . as possible, and that will attract people.

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