Hackett calls for Webb return

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Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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Former referee Keith Hackett has called on Howard Webb to come out of retirement in a bid to improve the standard of officiating.

Webb, widely considered one of England’s best ever referees, retired in August 2014 to become the technical director of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).

His first season out of the game has been littered with refereeing controversies, the most recent of which have come inside the last week.

Martin Atkinson’s decision not to punish Burnley’s Ashley Barnes for a tackle on Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic attracted widespread criticism, while on Saturday Roger East sent off Sunderland’s Wes Brown for a foul John O’Shea committed against Manchester United.

East claimed on Saturday, through a PGMOL statement, that he had considered Brown to be the guilty party, hence his dismissal.

Hackett, who used to head up the PGMOL – a job now done by Mike Riley – wants Webb, 43, to return.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, he said: “Referees are making big mistakes, week in, week out. They need some leadership and with that leadership the guy who is at the top needs to front up.

“He should be encouraging Howard Webb to come back into the game as a referee. I don’t know what Howard is doing behind the scenes with the referees.”

Hackett has not been shy in criticising standards over recent weeks and says officials are giving away cards “like confetti”.

On the East decision, he said: “I think it was another error in refereeing that we’ve seen, we’re seeing it pretty often.

“I don’t know if the referee was trying to be too clever or naive. He’s guessed, incorrectly, dismissed the player which is a real cardinal sin.

“Sending a player off is belittling at any stage of play. I worked hard to reduce the number of yellow cards and red cards when I was the position of the general manager of PGMOL. These guys seem to be pushing them around like confetti and in their eagerness and forgetting that their job is to get decisions correct.”

The East incident came on the very day that the International Football Association Board delayed trials of further use of video technology.

The Dutch FA wanted to conduct live trials in the Dutch Cup next season, but were delayed by at least 12 months.

The Football Association is also keen for further technology to be trialled, but chairman Greg Dyke told 5 Live he understood the problems referees were facing.

“I saw it (the East incident) briefly, mistakes happen, but what this shows is that referees make mistakes,” he said.

“If you could help that referee with video technology, then you should. There are still mistakes, they get highlighted, that’s life.”

Published: Sunday 1st March 2015 by The News Editor

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