Howard Webb: We’d only be put in front of cameras if decision was controversial

Howard Webb.
Howard Webb.

It looked like Howard Webb was trying out new ways to keep control of unruly international footballers.

The World Cup Final referee posed as first a ninja, then a hunter and finally a bear under instructions from fellow Premier League official Jon Moss.

The pair were in fact warming up the teachers present at Salt Ayre for the Lancaster and Heysham Primary Schools Sports Conference on Friday.

Ninja, Hunter, Bear - their version of rock, paper, scissors - went down a storm with the group before Webb joked about being a Manchester United fan, he most certainly is not, and revealed his nickname amongst the other 18 Premier League officials is Shrek after the animated film star.

As well as playing for laughs, Webb and Moss also passed on their experiences of top level officiating and in the latter’s case, teaching, to try and inspire those present.

It was one of those rare days where the officials arrived and left to applause.

“Football is extremely popular, it’s written about a lot and broadcast around the world and with that come the benefits of the finances that come into the game,” said Webb.

“We earn a living through the game and we have to accept that we’ll come under scrutiny, and football in many ways benefits from the amount of interest paid to it.

“We have to be broad shouldered and thick skinned and not go seeking conformation.”

Does that mean Webb would be open to explaining himself in front of the cameras on Match Of The Day and Sky Sports when his decisions are under the spotlight?

“There’s certain opportunities where you can assist people in understanding the job that you do but the game is all about the players and the people that watch the game,” said Webb.

“It’s not about referees and you’d fear that the only interest in referees would be when a decision was wrong rather than when you’ve done well, which is on most occasions.

“Most of the time you’ve done well, the referee contributes in a positive way, most of the match officials do but people wouldn’t be so interested in that.

“So you would be in a situation where you would only ever be featuring in a situation where it wasn’t positive.”

One game where Webb gained sympathy was the 2010 World Cup final when the Rotherham official was forced to dish out a string of cards to the Holland and Spain players in what was one of the more brutal clashes of recent years.

It means that he looks back on the biggest game of his career with mixed emotions.

“There’s only been 16 World Cup finals and so only many people involved in the game, so it was an amazing honour to be asked to be in charge,” said Webb.

“It’s something that will live long in my memory.

“But it was a tough old game. You try to treat all games the same but you are aware that it’s the biggest game of the players’ and the officials’ lives.”

Following the talks by Webb and Moss, the event, organised by Lancaster and Heysham School Games Organisers Steven Jamieson and Tim Fletcher, had a series of workshops with local coaches including work on hockey, tag rugby, sport leadership, dance and inclusive PE.