The former Premier League official has been tasked with resolving the issues at home after spending six years overseeing MLS referees in the United States. Webb, who presided over the 2010 World Cup final, will be in control of the top four tiers

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as the first-ever chief refereeing officer at PGMOL, the organisation that oversees officials in English football. Later this year, after managing director Mike Riley resigns, Webb will take over the position.

Speaking to the American public, Webb outlined his plans for bringing some of the MLS’ openness and transparency to his country.

 He said: “The successes we’ve had in most cases here is about being able to communicate a bit more.

“In terms of the way officials are coached, it looks pretty similar all over the world.

“It’s just then how you are able to engage with the other stakeholders. That’s when you need to do what you can to show what happens.”

VAR official Mike Dean was given permission to write a weekly newspaper column, and Prem referee Anthony Taylor was recently featured in a podcast by PGMOL.

Webb continued: “When you see these referees you see these are professional people who care about the game. They are desperate to be a positive influence.

“The more you draw the curtain back and humanise officials, the better.”

It would not necessarily mean seeing referees quizzed after every game, however.

Webb added: “It’s quite a tricky balance sometimes to know when to speak publicly about a situation.”

In America, Webb’s organisation examines some occurrences and posts them online for everyone to see and hear, including recordings of conversations between referees and assistants.

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From Webb’s vantage point in the USA, English referees are regarded as among of the greatest in the world, but back home, their standing is dismal.

Things have become so bad that Bristol City manager Nigel Pearson recently stated that he has contemplated leaving the game because of the officiating, which he described as being at “an all time low.” Webb understands he will be expected to make improvements but does not want to completely overhaul the situation.

He said: “I need time to evaluate it. But of course, the reason you bring somebody in is to secure improvement on what already happens.”

The Yorkshireman will investigate the use of semi-automated offside technology, which will be trialled in the Champions League and at the Qatar World Cup this year. The Yorkshireman is a staunch supporter of VAR.

Although the ex-police officer likes VAR, he gets annoyed when it is overly finicky.

He said: “One of the things that we found at the very start is that the VARs were wanting to get too involved.

“We had to do intensive training to sort of say, ‘No, just come back a little bit’.”

He feels there should not be a heavy reliance on VAR.

Webb said: “Don’t get too hung up about VAR, good officiating starts in the field.”

The more open-minded attitude toward modifying aspects of the game is one factor that has assisted Webb’s work in the MLS.

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He is not afraid to take on the stuffy aspect of English football, which has seen enormous success in the States in lengthening the time the ball is in play.

Webb said: “I would think the biggest conversation we have at the moment in MLS is around effective match time.

“There’s a range of options on the table, including 60- minute games with a countdown clock. Why not?”


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