To Football Association and FIFA executives he is still considered the cream of the crop of referees, but to English Premier League fans he remains the lowest of the low.
Veteran referee Howard Webb has retained his title as worst referee in the Barclay’s English Premier League after extensive fan voting poll by RedCardTheRef concluded on Monday, May 19.
Many believe Webb sunk to a new low this season because of his efforts to make the selection for the 2014 FIFA World Cup., The 42-year-old former Yorkshire policeman has effectively shot himself in the foot by failing to discipline numerous players for a number of violent fouls.
Strange since Webb is usually known for frequent red cards and bookings for everything from ungentlemanly conduct, time wasting and diving.
Readers will recall Webb won our inaugural poll in 2013
and once again was the most despised official by our readers, beating out his closest competitor Mark Clatenburg by a margin of 298 to 143.
Roger East (1%, 11 Votes)
Michael Oliver (2%, 17 Votes)
Jonathan Moss (2%, 17 Votes)
Neil Swarbrick (2%, 19 Votes)
Mike Jones (4%, 36 Votes)
Lee Mason (5%, 42 Votes)
Martin Atkinson (6%, 51 Votes)
Kevin Friend (8%, 65 Votes)
Phil Dowd (9%, 80 Votes)
Chris Foy (10%, 83 Votes)
Lee Probert (10%, 84 Votes)
Anthony Taylor (14%, 119 Votes)
Andre Marriner (14%, 120 Votes)
Mike Dean (14%, 122 Votes)
Mark Clattenburg (17%, 143 Votes)
Howard Webb (35%, 298 Votes)
Total Voters: 863
Webb is so roundly hated by fans that one has even launched an online petition to have him banned from officiating matches.
Others like to take their frustrations out on Webb on the web with Twitter posts, pictures and video clips like this one:
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) April 7, 2014
Scorn for Webb seems to be universal, Spanish fans remember his controversial decisions, and non-decisions in Spain’s heated clash with Holland in the 2010 World Cup and have obviously not forgiven him for this and his conduct in this season’s UEFA Champions League clash between Barcelona and Atletico.
And Howard Webb, the most hated foreign ref in Spain, will be officiating Atletico-Barcelona.
— Richard Martin (@rich9908) April 7, 2014
Former referee and Daily Mail columnist Graham Poll rightly points out that it was not the calls themselves which seemed to enrage fans but it was the non-calls, as was clearly illustrated in Chelsea’s clash with Liverpool in late December.
Poll says that Webb ignored a number of bookable fouls which included a horrific studs up challenge by Samuel Eto’o on Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson early on in the match.
Reds’ boss Brendan Rodgers was again up in arms with Webb’s performance in a February 16 FA Cup clash with eventual title winners Arsenal. Webb failed to award a 65th minute penalty to striker Luis Suarez after he was clearly taken down in the box by Gunners’ Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain costing Liverpool the match.
Webb was besieged with criticism of his non-call which Steven Gerrard called a “stonewall penalty.”
“Not a penalty? Webb is probably the only person on the planet who really believes that,” said veteran Soccer America columnist Paul Gardner.
The BBC wrote in its coverage of the match: “Arsenal have gotten away with one”
This key moment in the season was perhaps a watershed in his career and is another example of how Webb’s attempts to pander to the FIFA selection committee has been a grave mistake.
“Howard has made an error of judgement,” said former EPL referee Mark Halsey concerning the FA Cup debacle. “He has not had the best of seasons. He has not been the Howard Webb we all know.”
Recently ousted Manchester United manager David Moyes was beside himself when Webb again turned a blind eye to a clear-cut penalty kick and automatic red card for Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ foul on Red Devils’ forward Ashley Young during a New Years Day match.
Some believe Webb avoided making controversial decisions during the season to guarantee his selection to officiate matches at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
According to Sunday Express columnist Alan Biggs, this approach had the reverse effect and saw Webb miss out on several high profile matches towards the end of the season and as a result may also impact which matches he officiates in Brazil.
Webb was snubbed and Martin Atkinson was instead appointed for a key late season clash between Chelsea and Liverpool
Biggs writes that according to former FA referees manager Kevin Hackett his decision not to take a stand during numerous flashpoints this season will definitely see Webb take on a diminished role in Brazil.
“Howard’s concern will have been whether or not getting these games will affect opportunities at the World Cup,” said Hackett. “By his competitive nature, he will not have been entirely happy.”
Thanks to all those who voted in this year’s poll. The rest of the world has been put on warning as we gear up for this summer’s long-awaited World Cup, don’t expect Howard Webb to bail you out, anticipate the worst.
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