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.


Premier league referee Howard Webb has attracted the praise of many following his dealing of the Fabrice Muamba situation in the match against Tottenham recently.

Howard Webb was the referee for the match, which saw Bolton Wanderers taking on Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Just prior to the first half, Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch under no contact. He was later diagnosed with a cardiac arrest, which soon lead to his hospitalisation. The match was later abandoned after Howard Webb consulted with the managers and captains from both sides – Kevin Davies and Rafael van der Vaart.

Many have since applauded the decision by Howard Webb to abandon the match. When Fabrice Muamba was being taken to the hospital, the Tottenham crowd joined in the Bolton fans to sing the praise of the midfielder. Now, referee Howard Webb has said that the Tottenham crowd was extremely fantastic in helping him handle the situation. Howard Webb has said that the crowd had gone extremely quiet following the realisation of the seriousness of the problem. This helped the medics to provide the proper attention to Muamba. He also said that he decided to abandon the match after seeing some of the reactions from the players on seeing a player lifeless for about 70 minutes.

“My overriding memory is of the crowd reaction to it all when, suddenly, they all realised the seriousness of the situation. Firstly, they went very quiet. It was as if they all knew it was really serious. Then I could almost sense them encouraging him, and then willing someone to get a doctor. When the doctor arrived and started working on Fabrice, the crowd reaction was amazing, it was as if they were almost pushing with the doctor and willing him to get Fabrice’s heart going,” Howard Webb said in a recent interview.