Howard Webb vows to be 'transparent' as referees' chief appears on MNF

‘We want to draw the curtain back and show spectators what goes into making the decisions’: Howard Webb vows to continue being ‘transparent’ as referees’ chief makes pioneering appearance on MNF to explain VAR decisions

  • Howard Webb appeared on Monday Night Football to explain the VAR process
  • He said that he wants fans to understand how the controversial system works 
  • Webb has vowed to continue being ‘transparent’ with fans moving forward 

The chief refereeing officer for the PGMOL Howard Webb has taken the unprecedented step of appearing on Sky Sports to explain what Premier League officials are trying to achieve with their use of VAR.

VAR was introduced to the top-flight of English football ahead of the 2019-20 season, and has received plenty of criticism from fans over the past four years. 

One of the main points of contention has been supporters being unaware of what is being discussed between the on-field officials and their colleague in the VAR role. But Webb joined Jamie Carragher, Gary Neville and presenter David Jones on Monday Night Football to talk through how the group of referees working under him are trying to ensure that VAR works effectively.

‘We made a commitment to be more transparent,’ Webb said as he explained why he had agreed to go on the show.

‘We recognise people want more information about refereeing processes, particularly with the advent of VAR.

Howard Webb appeared on Monday Night Football to explain the VAR process to viewers

He joined Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville to talk through some controversial calls from this season

VAR has frustrated fans at times, but Webb has insisted he wants to be as ‘transparent’ as possible to gain trust from supporters

‘We want to draw the curtain back and we are prepared to do that and show the viewers and spectators what goes into making the decisions on the field and also how the VAR works as well.’

‘We’ve got a professional group of officials working hard to have a positive impact on the game. We are going to do that tonight and hopefully as much as we possibly can in the future.’

Webb went on to look at a number of clips with Carragher and Neville, as the trio reflected on penalty decisions, offside calls and disallowed goals from earlier this season.

Supporters have never previously been able to hear the conversations between officials, but Webb was happy to change that on Monday night, and even explained some of the unique terminology that they use. 

‘You are going to hear a few voices. The on-field officials, the referee, the assistant referees and the fourth official. They are making the decision, the on-field decision. Then the VAR and the assistant VAR will also be heard. They are the people doing the checks on those big key incidents,’ Webb said as he played the clips.

‘They are also assisted by a replay operator, a technician, who gives the officials the angles they need to look to make those important calls as to whether or not they intervene because a clear and obvious error has been identified or not.’

On a number of clips, the officials could be heard shouting ‘APP’, and Webb explained: ‘It means attacking possession phase or attacking phase of play. That’s the phase of play from the start of the attack that leads to the incident that is reviewable. 

‘It could be a penalty or a red card for DOGSO (Denial of a goalscoring opportunity) or a goal, of course.’

The PGMOL have issued several apologies to individual clubs across the course of the season, and Webb was asked whether this set a dangerous precedent.

Webb, who refereed in the Premier League himself between 2003 and 2014, insisted he was happy to acknowledge mistakes, and assured viewers that he would be happy to return to Monday Night Football to explain future controversial decisions. 

Webb, Carragher and Neville listened to the whole process that leads to a referee being advised to go over and check the pitchside monitor

‘We made a commitment to have a lot of dialogue with clubs and I’ve had a lot of open conversations and acknowledged to them some incidents, most privately and a few publicly. We will acknowledge those publicly on occasion,’ Webb said.

‘We want people to understand how good our officials are and to see the process and rationale.

‘We can’t play it (audio) live in-game, we can’t by the laws of the game, but there is nothing to stop us doing like we are tonight and doing it later. 

‘We’ve tried to show a range of situations and going forward we’re looking to do more of the same.’

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