Howard Webb

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Webb says De Jong would have been sent off with video review


NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.

The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.

Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”

Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.

Howard Webb to oversee VAR in the United States

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One of the most recognizable names and faces in the world of officiating is headed to New York City.

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced Tuesday that Howard Webb would be coming Stateside to oversee the implementation of Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) in the United States.

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Webb was reportedly offered the job in late November. He also works in broadcasting in England, and will start his new job in March.

Major League Soccer is testing VAR during preseason, with 15 teams getting the chance to experience it before it becomes league law. That’s expected to happen during the second half of this season.

Report: Howard Webb offered video assistant referee position in MLS

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After reportedly impressing on multiple interviews in the United States, Howard Webb could take on a great role within Major League Soccer.

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According to, former Premier League official Howard Webb has been offered a Video Referee Assistant job. Webb would require clearance from his current positions with BT Sport and the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in order to accept the MLS job.

A conflicting report from the Sun has suggested that Webb has been offered a position overseeing PRO’s referees, a job currently held by Peter Walton.

Webb, 45, currently serves as a consultant with both organizations after having retired from refereeing in August 2014.

Walton has held the position as Professional Referee Organization (PRO) chief for four years, and according to the organization, his contract runs until end of 2017.

is one of the world’s most recognized referees and has been involved in some of the game’s most contentious matches, including the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands.

Top soccer ref Howard Webb reveals how he endures OCD

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LONDON (AP) In his changing room before the 2010 World Cup final in South Africa, referee Howard Webb wasn’t comfortable in his blue shirt.

So he took it off.

Put it back on.

Took it off.

Put it back on.

Did this six times.

Moments from the most important game of his life, Webb was struck down by another bout of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior.

Webb kept the condition secret throughout a career that saw him referee the Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year, fearing the harsh world of soccer would mark him down as mentally unsound.

He has revealed the condition in an autobiography, and told The Associated Press in a telephone interview that he didn’t want to jeopardize his career. “You have to give the impression of being an assured and confident person,” he said.

In Johannesburg, as the Netherlands and Spain prepared for the World Cup final, Webb was trying to get changed. He wrote: “I reached into my kit bag and grabbed my azure blue Adidas shirt. However as I pulled it on, a negative thought invaded my head, my anxiety levels rose and I took the top off again to erase that niggling feeling.

“In the end it took me about six attempts to keep that bloody shirt on my back.”

His mood wasn’t improved by what happened on the field. In a dirty game full of nasty fouls, the ex-policeman showed the yellow card nine times and the red card once, a record for a World Cup final. He also missed a vicious kick to the chest of an opponent by Netherlands player Nigel de Jong.

“There are some that are unrefereeable and that was one of them,” he said about the biggest game in global soccer.

Webb said he tried to avoid sending players off, but agreed that that sometimes meant he failed to show the red card when he should have done.

“I recall a Manchester derby when Cristiano Ronaldo sarcastically applauded me after I booked him,” Webb said. “Of course, I should have showed him the red card (sarcastic applause is seen as dissent, a booking offense) but I thought to myself, `I’m going to change the course of the game by doing this.’ For want of a better word, I bottled it by not sending him off.”

The 45-year-old Webb is a soccer analyst and head of refereeing for the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and says he’d like to land more roles that help to develop refs.

Famous as much for his bald head as his refereeing, Webb says the OCD began when he was a boy growing up in Rotherham, east of Manchester in northern England.

He noticed that sometimes he kissed his mother goodbye in the morning and a bad thought entered his head that something was going to happen to her. So he would kiss her again – and again – until a positive thought about her entered his head and he could relax.

His parents noticed the behavior, but brushed it aside as “Howard’s habits.”

Webb kept it from his football employers. “I could have imagined some less-than-sympathetic person remarking, `Can we trust Webb on a football field? Or shall we hand that semifinal to a ref who’s, erm, not so flaky?”‘

Until he retired in 2014, Webb was England’s top referee, and his autobiography reveals a profession riven by in-fighting among the small group of elite refs who control English Premier League games.

“What had been intended as an informal beer and barbecue night in Cumbria almost descended into a version of Fight Night … between Graham Poll and Mark Halsey,” Webb wrote.

He said: “Watching them trading personal insults and squaring up to each other was pretty unedifying.” Both ex-referees have denied any such clash took place.

While more and more technology was being introduced to help refs, Webb said footballing authorities needed to recognize that technology has its limits.

“There has to be a clear acceptance that it won’t be the answer to every decision in the game,” he said.

Goal-line technology has proved a big success, but Webb was a less a fan of video technology.

“Some decisions aren’t right or wrong,” he said. “They’re subjective decisions that should be made by the referee.”

Manchester United’s Fellaini defends himself against “thug” accusations

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Marouane Fellaini plays the game hard.

He knows that, but the big Belgian won’t go as far as to admit to playing dirty.

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Fellaini, 28, has come under fire for incidents in Manchester United’s loss to Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League.

From the BBC:

“I don’t want to elbow someone, I just defend myself. I am physical. I like to win my challenge. That’s English football as well, but I am not a dirty player.”

In the first leg, Fellaini caught Emre Can with a high elbow, and used the same body part against Dejan Lovren and Roberto Firmino in the second leg.

Those had former Premier League referee Howard Webb branding Fellaini “a thug”. The player rejects that.

“If you want to win the game, you have to be aggressive. You have to win your challenge. I never want to injure a player or be bad, not like that. I just defend myself.”

There’s a bit of humor in the fact that Webb has long been considered biased toward Manchester United, but he has a point with Fellaini. He plays on the edge, for sure, and the first Can incident is especially nefarious.