Howard Webb: Top referees 'hurt' by recent criticism

Howard Webb
Howard Webb refereed both the World Cup final and the Champions League final in 2010

Premier League referees are "hurt" by recent criticism of their standards and professionalism, says Howard Webb.

Former World Cup final referee Webb says he has provided advice and support to under-pressure match officials.

"They want to be told: 'You are not losing your mind, you are not losing your ability,'" Webb, 43, said.

Elite-group referees Martin Atkinson and Roger East have both made high-profile errors during recent Premier League matches.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho condemned Atkinson's decision not to punish Burnley's Ashley Barnes for a tackle on midfielder Nemanja Matic during the 1-1 Premier League draw on 21 February.

East sent off Wes Brown during Sunderland's 2-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday for a foul committed by his Black Cats defensive partner John O'Shea.

Former referees' chief Keith Hackett called Atkinson's performance at Stamford Bridge "incompetent", while the Football Association rescinded Brown's red card on Monday.

Webb, who retired in August 2014 to become the technical director of the Professional Games Match Officials Limited, says the 18-strong Select Group of elite referees are affected when they make mistakes and often need support to rebuild their confidence.

"It really hurts - it did right until the end with me," Webb told The Times (subscription required). external-link

"And I know it does for people in the Select Group now, because I speak to them.

"The guys deal with it in different ways. Some will ring me and speak to me for three hours on the Sunday about the previous day. They just want to get it all out there. They want to rationalise what's gone off."

Martin Atkinson
Martin Atkinson sent off Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic (third from right) during the 1-1 draw with Burnley on 21 February
Wes Brown
Referee Roger East dismisses Wes Brown as John O'Shea appears to protest against his team-mate's red card against Manchester United on Saturday
Sunderland defender Wes Brown
Sunderland defender Brown (right) shows his dismay at being sent off by referee East