Premier league referee Howard Webb has said that play-acting by the players could result in loss of life in many situations. Howard Webb was in charge of Tottenham’s match against Bolton in the FA Cup quarter-final a few months ago.
It was the match in which Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch after suffering a heart attack. Howard Webb, who refereed the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, has said that the play-acting done by the players in order to get bookings for the opposition can result in serious injuries taken lightly. Webb has quoted the incident surrounding Fabrice Muamba as a perfect example of this situation.
Play-acting has become extremely common even in the Premier league unlike in the past when the footballers committed this crime were frowned upon in England. However, this is certainly not the case in the last few seasons and play-acting has been on the rise. According to Howard Webb, it will give referees the chance to overlook even serious injuries thinking that the player might be play-acting. Howard Webb’s incredible reactions in the FA Cup quarter-final match helped save the life of Bolton midfielder Muamba. The midfielder lay unconscious on the pitch for 78 min before being rescued.
“If people cry wolf too often then there is a possibility we will not react as we need to do. If we come under criticism for stopping the game too many times for doctors or physios to enter the field of play then maybe referees will be inclined not to stop the game. I think the message we are trying to get across is that it is always better for referees to be safe rather than sorry. If he does stop the play, and it turns out to be nothing, it is not the referee’s fault because his priority is the players,” said Howard Webb.