Give referees the right of reply, says Webb

Click to follow
The Independent Football

As he prepared for his first game since his controversial handling of the World Cup final, Howard Webb said referees should be allowed to explain their decisions to the media.

"Traditionally, speaking out is something we have not done but it doesn't make it right," Webb said. "I can see some of the benefits of supporters seeing and hearing a ref close up; it would help them understand us as referees and people.

"There is a concern that when we are asked to speak out, the questions would just be about the negatives," added Webb, "so it is not a road we have gone down willingly. Quite often when we are asked to comment it would be about mistakes, controversy or disciplinary sanction where sub judice comes into play."

Webb also believes that 18 years after cricket first used video replays to settle run-outs, five years after tennis adopted Hawkeye, three months after Frank Lampard's "goal that never was" in Bloemfontein, it is surely time that the world's most lucrative game adopted the technology of the late 20th century.

"What happened in South Africa with Frank Lampard brought the issue acutely into people's focus," said Webb when asked about goal-line technology. "Anything that makes my job easier, that makes me more credible, I've an open mind to. It needs to fulfil certain criteria – be 100 per cent accurate and almost instantaneous.

"We are going into this season's Champions League with additional referees behind the goals. It's got to be positive for me if I can have two referees I can trust. We are still using human opinion and maybe on a matter of fact, like goal-line decisions, technology might be the way forward. As for other forms of technology: we are in 2010 and we don't have it. That suggests to me it is a difficult thing to introduce."

There are things Webb tolerates and there are things he does not. He is quite indifferent to the way in which men like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger attempt to manipulate a referee before a game by asking for a "strong" official. If he were managing Manchester United, he would do the same. "I would do what I thought was right to get the advantage and win the game. That would be my job – to get points."

He is, however, less keen on dissent on the field, especially if it is pre-meditated. "If [a player is] nearby and makes a comment to me or my team that it wasn't a good decision in the heat of frustration, then I can probably handle that. But, if they have run 30 yards to make a point from one yard, they have had 30 yards of thinking time. As professional people, they should know the outcome. They should have the self-restraint to think."

Blatter considers scrapping extra-time at World Cup

Fifa is considering abolishing extra-time at the World Cup with drawn knock-out matches going straight to penalties, president Sepp Blatter said yesterday. Blatter said too many nations had played defensively in South Africa and the governing body would look at ways of encouraging more attacking tactics.

"We plan to take the opportunity to look at the concept of extra-time," said Blatter. "Often we see teams set themselves up even more defensively in extra-time, in an attempt to avoid conceding a goal at all costs. To prevent this, we could go directly to a penalty shoot-out at full-time, or reintroduce the golden goal rule. We'll see what emerges from the committee meetings."