|Full name||Howard Melton Webb|
14 July 1971 |
Rotherham, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Other occupation||Former police sergeant|
|1993–1995||Northern Counties East||Assistant referee|
|1995–1998||Northern Counties East||Referee|
|1996–1998||Football League||Assistant referee|
|1998–2000||Premier League||Assistant referee|
Howard Melton Webb, MBE (born 14 July 1971) is an English professional football referee who officiates primarily in the Premier League, having been appointed to the list of Select Group Referees in 2003, and has been a FIFA-listed referee since 2005.
Webb is counted amongst the all-time top referees by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS), and has refereed a number of notable matches including the FA Cup Final, the FA Community Shield and the final of the Football League Cup. In 2010, he became the first person to referee the finals of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup in the same year.
Webb first took up refereeing in local Rotherham leagues in 1989. In 1993, he progressed to the Northern Counties East League as an assistant referee, becoming a referee for that league two years later.
In 1996, he was appointed as a Football League assistant referee, and, in 1998, fulfilled the same function in the Premier League, as well as being promoted to the Football Conference as a referee. He is a police officer with South Yorkshire Police but took a five-year sabbatical leave to concentrate on his refereeing.
In 2000, he was included on the National List of Football League referees, stepping up to the Select Group for the Premier League three years later. His first game in the top tier of English football was on 18 October 2003, when he took charge of the 0–0 draw between Fulham and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was appointed as a FIFA official in 2005.
Webb bore a one-week demotion from officiating in the Premier League down to the Football League Championship in April 2009, a punishment sporadically imposed on referees who make high-profile contentious errors. Webb had earlier been appointed to referee the year's FA Cup final, arguably the highest domestic honour for an official, when he awarded Manchester United a debatable penalty kick while they trailed 2–0 to Tottenham Hotspur. The penalty was converted and United went on to win the match 5–2. Webb later admitted he had made "a mistake" but had made the decision "honestly".
Since then, Webb has been appointed to referee some of the world's highest-profile football matches, including an FA Cup Final, a UEFA Champions League Final and a FIFA World Cup Final. Following in this section are some key matches Webb has refereed in his career since being promoted to the Premier League and FIFA list of referees.
2005 FA Community Shield
In August 2005, Webb officiated the FA Community Shield at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, a match between the Premier League winners and the FA Cup winners of the previous season. League winners Chelsea went 2–0 up through two Didier Drogba goals, but Cesc Fàbregas netted a goal for FA Cup winners Arsenal twenty-five minutes before the end. It was a tense finale, but Chelsea held on to secure a 2–1 victory. Webb issued three yellow cards (to Frank Lampard, Claude Makélélé and Fàbregas) in a game that saw eleven substitutions.
First international match
Webb's first international game was at Windsor Park, Belfast, on 15 November 2005, when Northern Ireland hosted Portugal in a friendly. The game ended 1–1, with the home side scoring both goals. Northern Ireland went 1–0 down just before half-time through a Stephen Craigan own goal, but Warren Feeney salvaged a draw by netting in the second half. Tony Capaldi, Keith Gillespie and James Quinn were booked for Northern Ireland.
2006 FA Trophy Final
On 14 May 2006, Webb took charge of the 2006 FA Trophy final at the Boleyn Ground in London. Grays Athletic beat Woking 2–0, through goals from Dennis Oli and Glenn Poole, both just before half time. No players found their way into the book.
2006 European Under-21 Championship
The 2006 European Under-21 Championship qualifying rounds began in August 2004, with the finals taking place in Portugal in May and June 2006.
Webb officiated the Group A match between France and Portugal, which the former won 1–0, and the Group B game between Italy and Ukraine, which saw the Italians win thanks to a Giorgio Chiellini goal three minutes into second-half stoppage time.
Webb also took charge of one of the two semi-finals, which saw Ukraine beat Serbia and Montenegro 5–4 on penalties after a 0–0 draw. He was also appointed as fourth official for the final in Porto, which saw the Netherlands beat Ukraine 3–0.
First Champions League match
A UEFA Champions League group match on 26 September 2006 between Steaua Bucureşti and Lyon was Webb's first European appointment. The game at the Ghencea Stadium in Bucharest finished 3–0 to Lyon, with Webb issuing four yellow cards during the course of the match.
2007 League Cup Final
The League Cup final of 2007 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was an incident-filled match. Theo Walcott gave Arsenal the lead early in the first half – his first goal for the London-based club, but two Didier Drogba goals gave Chelsea victory.
The match ended with a brawl, with most of the players on the pitch becoming involved. Managers José Mourinho and Arsène Wenger both entered the pitch in an attempt to calm the situation. As a result of the mêlée, Webb sent off Mikel John Obi of Chelsea and Kolo Touré and Emmanuel Adebayor of Arsenal, and showed yellow cards to Frank Lampard and Cesc Fàbregas. This was the first time that three red cards had been shown in a League Cup final. Indeed, prior to this game only three red cards had been shown in all of the previous finals. Later in the same year, Webb was selected to be the fourth official for the 2007 FA Cup Final, with Steve Bennett selected to referee.
2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup
Webb was selected to officiate in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada during June and July, and was referee for the Group D game between Poland and Brazil at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on 30 June. He then took charge of the Group C game between Mexico and Portugal at the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto on 5 July. On 8 July he officiated the Group A match between Canada and Congo at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
Webb was retained by FIFA for the knockout stage of the tournament, and refereed a quarter-final on 15 July in Montreal where Chile defeated Nigeria 4–0 with all four goals being scored in extra time.
UEFA Euro 2008
On 12 June 2008, whilst refereeing in his first match of the tournament, a Group B game between Austria and Poland, and with less than one minute left in stoppage time, he awarded Austria a penalty kick after he adjudged Poland's Mariusz Lewandowski to have pulled the shirt of Sebastian Prödl. The penalty was converted and the match finished 1–1. Leo Beenhakker, Poland's head coach, described the decision as "inconsistent with the rest of the tournament". Some commentators praised the decision, describing it as "brave". In the light of UEFA's instructions to referees about conduct at set pieces, the decision to award a penalty in such circumstances was considered by some commentators as a breakthrough in strict implementation of the laws of the game. UEFA official William Gaillard said the decision was not controversial and was correct. On 15 June, Webb was reported as saying that the only incorrect decision he made was to allow Poland's goal, which he said was offside. "To me the penalty was clear and I hope that people later will look at it and realise it was the only decision that could be taken," Webb said. In the same interview he also said that neither he nor his family, who remain in England, feel under threat. "I have not received any threats," he said.
On 18 June, Webb refereed his second game of Euro 2008 when he took charge of the Group D match in which Greece lost 2–1 to Spain. UEFA stated on 19 June that Webb had not been selected to referee matches in the knock-out phase.
Webb was invited to referee the 2008 final of the North American SuperLiga between New England Revolution and Houston Dynamo at the Gillette Stadium near Boston. New England won the match 6–5 on penalties after a 2–2 draw.
2009 FA Cup Final
Webb took charge of the 128th final of the world's oldest domestic football cup competition, the FA Cup. The final was played at Wembley Stadium in London on 30 May 2009 and marked the third time that the final had been staged at the stadium since it was rebuilt. The match was contested by Chelsea, who had beaten Arsenal 2–1 in their semi-final, and Everton who had beaten Manchester United 4–2 on penalties after a 0–0 draw in their semi-final.
After Louis Saha opened the scoring for Everton after just 25 seconds (the fastest ever goal in an FA Cup final), Didier Drogba equalised in the 21st minute before Frank Lampard scored the winner with 19 minutes left to play, to give Chelsea their fifth FA Cup success. Webb cautioned Mikel John Obi and Frank Lampard of Chelsea and Tony Hibbert, Phil Neville and Leighton Baines of Everton.
2009 Confederations Cup
In June 2009, Webb was one of the referees at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa where he took charge of two games.
On 15 June, in the match between Brazil and Egypt with the scoreline at 3–3 and in the final minute, he appeared to signal for a corner after Egypt's Ahmed Elmohamady appeared to handle the ball to prevent a goal. Webb then sent off the defender and awarded a penalty kick, which Brazil converted to eventually win 4–3. Egypt claimed that Webb took advice from the fourth official who may have seen a television replay and awarded the penalty based on this information, but the complaint was later rejected by FIFA.
Webb also refereed the 0–0 draw between Iraq and New Zealand in Johannesburg. Throughout the tournament, Webb wrote a regular blog detailing his experiences as a referee while at the tournament in South Africa.
2010 UEFA Champions League Final
On 20 May 2010, Webb was announced as the referee for the year's Champions League Final at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in Madrid. He showed yellow cards to Martin Demichelis and Mark van Bommel of Bayern Munich and cautioned Christian Chivu of Inter Milan. Inter won the match 2–0 with both goals being scored by striker Diego Milito, their first European Cup/Champions League title in 45 years.
2010 FIFA World Cup
On 24 October 2008, FIFA announced that Webb would be on the provisional list of referees for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. On 5 February 2010, FIFA confirmed that Webb had been selected as a referee for the competition.
Webb took charge of the Group H match between Spain and Switzerland on 16 June, the Group F match between Italy and Slovakia on 24 June, and the round of 16 match between Brazil and Chile on 28 June.
2010 FIFA World Cup Final
On 8 July 2010, FIFA announced that Webb would referee the final between the Netherlands and Spain. He was assisted by Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey during the final in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium. He was the first English referee to take charge of a World Cup Final since Jack Taylor in 1974 – in which the Netherlands lost to West Germany.
In the game Webb issued 14 yellow cards, including two to the Netherlands' John Heitinga who was subsequently sent off, more than doubling the former record of six for a World Cup Final, set in 1986.
The match was seen as a highly difficult one to referee. After the match Webb was criticised by the Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk, some Dutch players, and was booed by some Dutch fans as he and his fellow officials collected their medals. However, some portions of the world's press condemned the Dutch for their rough play, and some pundits opined that Webb was generous to the Dutch for not showing any red cards to their players until ten minutes before the end of extra time. Some portions of the Spanish press complained that Webb failed to properly control the game and take enough action against several of the Dutch players, particularly Nigel de Jong for a high kick on Xabi Alonso. Webb later conceded that had he had a better viewing angle of de Jong's challenge he would have sent him off, and de Jong later admitted he was "lucky" to only receive a yellow card. Dutch legend Johan Cruyff criticised both his countrymen's rough tactics, and Webb for not dealing more harshly with them.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter defended Webb and noted that it was "not easy" to control such a match, saying: "It's not up to me to judge the performances of the officials, I can only say it was a very hard task that the referee trio had on the field of play". Former Premier League referee Jeff Winter said of Webb's performance: "I thought he had a superb game. I find it very difficult to remember a more testing game than that at any level. I thought the players' behaviour and discipline were abysmal. From a referee's point of view, if the players don't want to be controlled it's virtually impossible to control them. Had it had been a referee without his experience of the European game, they might have lost control within the first 30 minutes." Pundit Alan Hansen defended Webb and condemned the Dutch, saying that: "Howard Webb tried to make the game flow but on this occasion he was left with no choice."
After the game Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder claimed Webb "robbed us" and was a "scandal"; whereas Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo took the polar opposite view in stating that "Holland were able to count on an unexpected ally: referee Howard Webb, who allowed the Dutch to get away with brutal fouls time and time again". As the criticism rolled in so did the praise, as colleagues, commentators and media figures rose to Webb's defence. The British Referees' Association said "it would be almost impossible to disagree with any of the bookings he issued", former FA Cup Final referee Keith Hackett noted that "anyone who criticises the officials lacks the knowledge and experience of someone who has refereed" and called on FIFA to punish the Dutch players who castigated Webb to the press. Jeff Winter said that "to listen to Dutch players after the game blaming the referee for the defeat after they conducted themselves abysmally for the whole two hours is unbelievable. I hope when they look back at what they've said they are totally and utterly embarrassed."
Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest
|"Without life, there is no football at all. The realisation is, when the CPR starts, is just how serious it is. This story has a happy ending thanks to the expertise of the medical staff."|
|—-Webb speaking about Fabrice Muamba's collapse at a FIFA medical conference in Budapest, 24 May 2012.|
On 17 March 2012 Webb refereed the FA Cup quarter-final at White Hart Lane between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers. In the 41st minute of the match with the score at 1–1, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch with no other player near him. After several minutes of paramedics attempting to revive Muamba from a cardiac arrest, Webb abandoned the game and Bolton's manager and captain travelled in the ambulance with Muamba to hospital. Many former and current officials praised Webb for his actions and quick-thinking. After a session with a psychologist, Webb was excused by the Premier League from his duty as fourth official for the following day's match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United. Muamba ultimately was revived. Webb would officiate as referee again for the rematch between Tottenham and Bolton on 27 March, which Tottenham won 3–1.
Following the 2011–12 season, Webb spoke to a FIFA medical conference in Budapest about the importance of curbing simulation in football, as players feigning injury could put players with serious medical issues, like Muamba, in jeopardy.
UEFA Euro 2012
On 20 December 2011, Webb was named one of the 12 referees selected by UEFA to take charge of games at UEFA Euro 2012. He was in-charge of the Group A fixture between Russia and Czech Republic on the opening day, Group C fixture between Italy and Croatia on 14 June 2012 and the quarter-final between Czech Republic and Portugal on 21 June 2012.
Games and cards
|Season||Games||Total||per game||Total||per game|
Statistics for all competitions including domestic, European and international. Records prior to 2000-01 are not available.
Cautions and dismissals
Webb issued at least one card in every game he refereed in the 2002–03 and 2004–05 seasons. The first red card he showed in the Premier League was to Michael Svensson of Southampton for a second bookable offence in a 0–0 draw at Bolton Wanderers on 8 November 2003. The 2003–04 season saw Webb issue his highest proportion of red cards yet: nine in 34 games. Between 17 February and 17 March 2007, he showed five red cards all in the 90th minute of matches.
In four fixtures since the 2000–01 season he has issued two red cards in the same game, three times dismissing one player from either side, and once reducing one team (Milton Keynes Dons in December 2001) to nine men. He has once shown three red cards in the same match: the 2007 Football League Cup Final.
Webb conceded that he made a mistake during a Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in 2009. The incident of note came when Tottenham goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes challenged United's Michael Carrick for the ball; Webb judged that Gomes fouled Carrick although replays suggested the keeper played the ball. The official, who was over 30 yards away from the incident, awarded a penalty kick, which began United's comeback from 2–0 down to eventually win 5–2.
Earlier in that year, Webb was in charge of an FA Cup tie between Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. During the first half, Webb declined to award Birmingham a penalty when Richard Stearman appeared to foul Marcus Bent. He later admitted this decision was a mistake. In the second half, Webb accidentally blocked a Radhi Jaïdi pass on the halfway line, gifting possession to Wolverhampton's Michael Kightly who set up his side's second goal in a 2–0 win. After the match, Webb reflected on the events by saying: "I am disappointed to have an influence on a goal like that, it is difficult because the ball comes at you with pace and you think you are in the best position, but then something like that happens and they break away and sod's law says they go and score from it... I have spoken to Birmingham and they have been outstanding having accepted it and shown no animosity at all. I was almost more disappointed with the penalty incident".
In January 2011 Webb officiated Kenny Dalglish's first game in charge of his comeback to Liverpool in their fixture against Manchester United. Dalglish criticised Webb for awarding United a first-minute penalty after deeming Daniel Agger to have fouled Dimitar Berbatov. Dalglish claimed that Berbatov dived, saying: "The penalty is a joke, I've seen the replay and unless the rules have changed it is no penalty". Referring to a red card that Webb later issued to Steven Gerrard for a two-footed lunge, Dalglish said, "I cannot see that as a red card". Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson countered by saying that Webb had got both of those key decisions correct, claiming that for the penalty there was enough force to make Berbatov lose his balance, and that Gerrard's red card challenge was "two-footed and off the ground". Liverpool's Ryan Babel later posted an image on Twitter of Webb in a Manchester United shirt after Liverpool's 1–0 defeat; he was subsequently charged by the FA with improper conduct and fined £10,000.
Webb was the recipient of criticism from Chelsea manager André Villas-Boas in February 2012 after his team led Manchester United 3–0 but two penalty kicks and a third headed goal saw United salvage a 3–3 draw in a Premier League fixture at Stamford Bridge. Villas-Boas described Webb's second penalty award for United as "absurd" after the official adjudged Branislav Ivanović to have fouled Danny Welbeck, though television replays suggested contact was minimal. United manager Alex Ferguson said in his post-match interview that Webb should have sent off Chelsea debutant Gary Cahill in the early stages of the game for an apparent professional foul on Welbeck on the edge of the penalty area. Cahill later admitted he was "fortunate" to have not been penalised for the clash.
Webb is married with three children. He was a sergeant in the South Yorkshire Police before turning professional as a referee. He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to football. He is a Rotherham United supporter.
Webb has been commended for his work in football officiating for being the first man to referee the Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year.
In June 2011 Webb was made President of the Baris Northern Counties East Football League, a league in which he had once officiated. In July 2011 he received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Bedfordshire. In November 2011, Webb also gained a Honorary Degree from York St John University as a Doctor of Health Sciences.
- Birthdate and biographical detail: Football League website.
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- First ever Premier League match: soccerbase.com website.
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- Arsenal v. Chelsea, FA Community Shield 2005 match report: TheFA.com website.
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- Grays Athletic v. Woking, FA Trophy Final 2006: Grays Athletic website.
- France v. Portugal Under-21 match lineups from www.uefa.com
- Italy v. Ukraine Under-21 match lineups from www.uefa.com
- Ukraine v. Serbia and Montenegro Under-21 match lineups from www.uefa.com
- Netherlands v. Ukraine Under-21 match lineups from www.uefa.com
- First European appointment, match report at UEFA.com Official website.
- Carling Cup Final, 2007: Match report at BBC.co.uk website.
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- "World Cup 2010: Dutch coach criticises referee Webb". BBC Sport. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
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- "Webb les perdona dos rojas y nos birla un penalti". Marca. 12 July 2010. Retrieved 11 July 2010.
- "I should have sent off De Jong in World Cup final, admits Howard Webb". The Guardian (London). 25 August 2010.
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- "http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/4203492/Steven-Howard-Referee-Howard-Webb-got-Muamba-incident-right.html". The Sun. 17 March 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- Poll, Graham (18 March 2012). "Webb and his officials should be commended on their handling of Muamba incident". The Mail (London). Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- "First red card in Premier League". SAINTSFC.co.uk website. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2012..
- Norwich v. MK Dons match information from www.soccerbase.com
- Kelvin Davis dismissal from www.soccerbase.com
- John Filan dismissal from www.soccerbase.com
- "Howard Webb admits his mistake over Tottenham penalty". The Telegraph (London). 28 April 2009.
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- New Year Honours for Lennox, Suchet, Hancock and Webb
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