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When can we criticise referee Webb? In Brazil, never!

by Tony Attwood, with ref review data from Walter Broeckx

Howard Webb is a name you will read many times on Untold Arsenal.  I’ve no idea how many times we’ve dealt with him, but surely it must be in the hundreds, since we started.

And here he is again, doing a game, and with one of the protagonists saying, “hang on a minute, this guy isn’t all he ought to be.”

The response from the other side: the comments are immature, ridiculous and deeply disrespectful.    It is as if Chile has been reading Untold Arsenal on Web, and Brazil have been reading the comments supplied on Untold from people who have never studied the statistics, analyses, and what is now the largest collection of analyses by referees of referees ever openly published.

Never read them – or ignored them.  A bit like the English media.

Quite how people can take evidence and just reject it in a matter of half a dozen words is beyond me, but it seems to be a world-wide phenomena.  If the figures don’t show what you want them to show, just dismiss them, that’s the game these days.

Chilean worries come from what they see as favourable home decisions for Brazil thus far, including the dubious penalty awarded to Fred in the match v Croatia and the refusal to disallow the goal against Cameroon in the final group game, when Fred appeared to have been offside. Chile have also been critical of the Ghanaian referee, Bakary Gassama.

Webb was ref at the round of 16 game between Brazil and Chile in South Africa where Brazil won 3-0.  However even raising the issue in Brazil is seen as a problem.  When one journalist at the pre-match press conference in Belo Horizonte brought it up Rodrigo Paiva, director of communications for the Brazilian Football Federation said, “We are going to talk about this only once.  The press in Chile have stressed this issue during the week and it is something that is immature. This kind of pressure is ridiculous.

“Talking about this is not a lack of respect towards Fifa, or to the referee himself or to the Brazilian Selecao or to the people who work here in a very serious manner, for a country with 100 years of football history and of a winning history – it is a lack of respect to the Brazilian people. Brazil doesn’t need a referee to win the match and you should respect a little bit more the Brazilian Selecao and the Brazilian people.”

So what do other referees make of Webb in the Premier League?

Our reviews show that usually he has a good first half (sometimes even great) followed by a drop in the second half.   He is known to be bad in handing out yellow and red cards and makes big mistakes on important decisions.  And usually he is a home referee.

So from our earlier analyses Chile has a right to be worried.

Writing on this site on 16 February 2014 after the FA Cup match against Liverpool Walter Broeckx said of Webb, “His first half was still decent even though he already messed up with the yellow cards. First letting Steven G. off the hook when he made a nasty stamp on the knee of Podolski without a yellow card.  As a result Podolski went in with a rash challenge seconds later and also should have been booked but wasn’t.

“But in general his foul calling for foot fouls was decent although the way he allowed Skrtel and Agger to man-handle Sanogo was strange to see. As a result Sanogo went also in harder and harder and that was just a result of Webb letting too many fouls on Sanogo go. You could see Sanogo think at some moment in the game: ok, they can go in like that, so will I. As a result there were far too many arms flying around.

“The cards department was as we expected it to be. The fact that Sterling was allowed to push the ref without even a yellow card is beyond me. If a player touches me like that he walks. There is no other option. A red card. YOU DON’T TOUCH THE REF! NEVER! This was a clearly an angry push. Now if refs want respect from the players they also have to make sure that players will respect them.

“That it was not pushing him over isn’t important. At no point ever should a referee allow physical contact from a player and certainly not a push. Because what next? Spitting towards the ref? After all, you don’t get killed from being spat on you know. A line has been crossed there and Webb has let a thousand referees down who maybe will get pushed over next weekend when they do their game. After all a young professional player can push the ref so why don’t we take on that idiot that is doing our match.

“And then maybe it doesn’t end with a push. Maybe it will end with fists being punched in the face. Why don’t the media talk about that and express the disgust of letting Sterling off the hook like he did. Maybe because it doesn’t fit their agenda?

“Also the fact that Gerrard didn’t get a second yellow card is something that the media have brushed under the carpet. His tackle on Oxlade-Chamberlain in the second half was a yellow card tackle. And after the ref let Gerrard off the hook as said above he had to card him when he was stopping a promising attack from Oxlade-Chamberlain a bit later in the first half.  Gerrard should have been booked 3 times but Webb only gave one. Again the media didn’t find it worth mentioning. Agenda you said?

“Let us move on to the important penalty decisions.  Let me tell you I don’t really have a problem with the first decision. I only wonder why in all those years I really cannot remember us getting such a decision. And that is the point that most Arsenal fans will feel hard done by. We know that when it is the other way round we get nowt. We have seen it over and over again in the last years. So once again it seems that there are two sets of rules. Based on who commits the foul and who is being fouled.  And that is where Arsenal fans are angry about.

“And I think even Webb knew it when he gave it. It was embarrassing to see him running around in doubt not knowing what to give. Should I, shouldn’t I, oh fuck Arsenal lead 2-0 I can give it. I think this will have all been passing his braincells just before giving the penalty.”

As with all our past reports, they are still on Untold.  This one is here.  Perhaps the Chilean authorities have read it!

Recent posts

– See more at: http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk/archives/10681#sthash.tNZUyile.dpuf

41 comments to When can we criticise referee Webb? In Brazil, never!

  • soglorious

    Kind of watch the world cup when I am less busy but with what I have seen of the Brazilian team, they won’t go far without the help of the referee. Home advantage will also count.

  • Arsenal1Again

    Somebody sounds like they realise all that time could have been spent doing something worthwhile.

    I had an Uncle who analysed sequences on roulette tables, the football pools (remember them) and even aspects of horse racing. It was all statistics, charts and explanations and I politely nodded. It all looked sound and rather convincing at times, yes, it was exactly like the Ref analysis on Untold because it had the exact same worth and took the exact same time to compile and organise. The only difference is my Uncle explained his findings verbally while Untold writes their findings.

    I told you two years ago the ref data could only be viable if the the same analysis was done with EVERY team, with EVERY game and with EVERY ref over an entire season with the conclusions found in May. A few cherry picked moments which can be twisted to fit your point of view is instantly dismissable I am afraid, it just makes Untold biased and sound whiney. There is a persecution complex evident too.

    Regardless of ref decisions, if players scored more goals and conceded less goals we would get more points, win more games and be a hell of a lot better off – it really doesn’t matter what the ref had for lunch, what hair colour he has, whether it is a November or if it is the second weekend since there was a thunderstorm, but carry on compiling your ref data if you want for many more years to come. It will have the same worth and at best be something for fellow conspiratory therorists to nod at and discuss.

  • Mick

    One thing I have noticed about Webb is his blind spot when it comes to the high boot. Remember the infamous one by the Holland player Da Jong against Spain in the last World Cup final, the chest high one Ferdinand did on Sagna which ripped his shirt, no foul even given, and again in the WC match he reffed a few days ago another almost chin high foot ignored.

  • Mick

    Walter, shame on you for ignoring Arsenal1Again. He has told you again and again that your research is worthless and yet you still use it to justify your biased views.

  • jambug

    Arsenal1Again

    “I told you two years ago the ref data could only be viable if the same analysis was done with EVERY team, with EVERY game and with EVERY ref over an entire season with the conclusions found in May.”

    What an absolute crock of shit.

    Have you ever heard of a straw poll?

    It is a well known and accepted fact that taking a fair, across the board example of any group, will give an accurate reflection of that particular groups views or behaviours.

    To suggest you have to canvass the views or have the results of every single event, behaviour, or view is ridiculous.

  • jambug

    Arsenal1Again

    This is why you are talking rubbish.

    If you monitor how I live my life over 20 weekends do you not think that that would give a fair reflection of how I will live my life for the next 200?

    If you watched your kids teacher educating your kids (assuming you have any)over 20 lessons do you not think that would be a fair indicator as to how they would be educated over the next 200?

    If someone secretly monitored you driving for 20 hours do you not think that would be a fair reflection of how you will drive over the next 200?

    If you answer no to any of these 3 questions please explain why.

  • jambug

    I should of said ‘opinion poll’ as opposed to ‘straw poll’

    Have a look at Wiki to see how small a % sample you need to get an accuracy well within 10% accuracy.

  • oldgroover

    I for one am wishing Howard Webb a decent game this evening if only to prevent Brazilians/Chileans for blaming the English for them being eliminated at the first knock out stage.

  • Pete

    Arsenal1Again,

    I know Jambug has already replied, but your posting betrays a serious lack of understanding of statistical science.

    It is not always practicable to include an entire population of outcomes in your survey – in these instances a sample can be very useful. This is how election exit polls (perhaps 10-15,000 data points) can accurate predict the result of the whole election (many millions of votes).

  • finsbury

    We’d better not tell poor old Arsenal1Again that alongside other mainstream football media that even Talksport were happy to refer to the work from this site, repetetively, and with praise.
    Shocking. But true.

    Sanchez sounds like an Arsenal player! 😉

  • Arsenal1Again you approach analyses in a way that is contrary to the way in which all the social sciences analyse the world and make predictions from it. Of course you are entitled to do that, as you are entitled to exist in your position within a tiny minority of the population who have thought of such matters.

    No harm in that and I would not be so rude to you as you have been to my approach – the approach which I learned along with millions of others in studying social science at university.

    But your minority point you made has been answered fully in the past – indeed I referred you to the basics of social science research last time around, and other readers have corrected you this time.

    The problem with your approach is that you seem to make a point, and then not bother to carry on reading the commentaries so that you can see and understand counter points.

    That, I think, is the problem of many people who take up a minority point of view – and then utterly fail to read counter arguments.

    Please don’t do this again – if you want to make the same objection again please do so by introducing new thoughts and taking into account how it can be that your approach is right and the whole of social science at university level is wrong. Otherwise I fear I may not publish your commentary.

  • oldgroover

    Half time & Webb favouring Brazil in the issuing of cards. Nothing controversial yet. Great game.

  • Rantetta

    Where Howard leads…..

    Violence follows!

  • Rantetta

    This is a right Malarcki!

  • Rantetta

    Imagine if there was video replay!

  • oldgroover

    Yes indeed. Complete cock up by Malarcky & Webb. Tough on Hulk, who I thought dived in the first half, but this was outrageous.

  • jambug

    I thought he handled it.

    Seems like most people do.

    Would of been a very soft pen on Hulk in the 1st half, though as they say ‘I’ve seen ’em given’. 50/50 so you have to give the benefit of the doubt to Webb.

    All in all Webb and his team done ok.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Have to say, Webb and his assistants have been excellent today

  • GooneressNo1

    Mandy Dodd can’t say I agree with you there.

  • oldgroover

    Studio team think Hulk DID handle it, so good performance by Webb etc. They’re right, I’m wrong.

  • jambug

    oldgroover

    I, like most people now, will of seen the replays of the 2 big calls (Pen and Handball)a few times and they are TOUGH calls.

    Ultimately I think they got them both right, but if they had called them both the other way I would not of been over critical because, as I say, tough calls.

    Other than that, Webb and his team controlled a ‘feisty’ match, that could easily of got out of control, very well.

    On the match. Good to watch. 100% effort. Don’t think the quality was brilliant though.

    Home advantage is massive but I still don’t think Brazil will win it.

  • oldgroover

    jambug
    One other thing I liked about Webb was that he didn’t get in the way of play like some refs have.
    How Fernandinho didn’t get a card was rather surprising though. Someone in the commentary suggested that familiarity might have played a part.
    Isn’t that what we call bias?

  • jambug

    oldgroover

    Yep. Could easily of, probably should of, booked more, but his leniency did contribute to the flow of the game.

    That being said his job is to apply the laws of the game and he should of booked more.

    So not perfect, but overall a good performance.

  • WorldBr

    soglorious <<<you are so wrong..howard Webb had done lots of mistakes and was favoritsm very clear to Chile..Why?? maybe he is one of the FIFA'S Guys right!?

  • Chapman's Ghost

    Poor old ArsenalAgain, getting some stick but though I see his point I think he’s missing the REAL point. Ref data is fascinating but I think you have to replicate every condition to make them valid, that is that Walter would have to be actually refereeing the game. I’m sure sitting watching a game in the comfort of your own home and making snap judgements, or even considered ones, based on camera angles you wouldn’t have access to during that split second when you have to make a decision, and not being subject to so many other conditions, ie the crowd, the players, other officials, can only undermine your conclusions, or at least render them ambiguous, at the very least. We need video evidence for the really tough calls, like the Brazil goal that was disallowed today or their penalty shout.

  • OlegYch

    what do you think of brazil penalties? Cezar was clearly stepping out from the frame towards the ball at least two times and Neimar appeared to stop before doing a shot

  • Poogins

    As an American, I was not born into a club or football at all. I fell in love with the game watching Les Bleus make it all the way to the final in Germany 06, losing in heartbreaking fashion on penalties after Zidane’s aberration of human conduct. I had no club and would watch the Italian league on FSC. I liked Juventus, but I didn’t love them.
    I found the Prem, and I fell In love with Arsenal when I first saw them. Shortly thereafter, I would watch the games with increasing attention, especially the fouls and the run of play, as I saw how much of an influence they had. Not until I became a fan did I start to notice how calls would hurt Arsenal. Calls that I didn’t see as fair. To me, I was still skeptical but sometimes, some calls, they just did not add up. I knew I wasn’t the only one who could see this, and that is how I came to Untold, for whom I have the greatest respect.
    I agree with much of what is written here, but over time I have begun to doubt whether match-fixing is real. I have watched almost every game in this World Cup, and there have been plenty of game changing decisions. It makes my head spin how much power the ref’s have. There are blatantly wrong calls but even those that seem correct (Greece’s pen vs CIV) just seem so powerful.
    No. I don’t doubt match fixing. It’s real, I guess I have grown to have more sympathy for the referee’s, who I used to think of like serial killers or the like.
    The ref is a human, and most of them have a circumstantial style that only works with absolute consistency, like American vs European law.
    I guess the point of this post is that I didn’t see a lot wrong with Webb’s handling of the biggest game of the tournament to date. He was consistent, even if he didn’t flash an early yellow to set a precedent.

  • Shard

    Chapman’s ghost

    You don’t have to replicate every single factor, just as you don’t need to include every data point, to come up with a viable analytical or even predictive model. You are as wrong as Arsenal1Again.

    How do you think weather forecasts (for example) work? Do you think they even know every single factor that goes towards determining the weather? They don’t, and people who work on them will tell you the same. Even some factors that are known (like the crowd’s effect in your example) are not included because they do not know how to fit it into the model. And yet, weather forecasts do work fairly well. They aren’t perfect, but nobody expects them to be.

  • Shard

    PS. The crowd’s effect was actually a poor example to give on my part because it is included in the data points when calling Webb a ‘homer’. It just works on the assumption that the crowd will subconsciously affect the referee to favour their own team. This assumption doesn’t always hold true, but it is generally speaking, a reasonable assumption to make.

  • nicky

    One day, not in my lifetime, football games will be controlled electronically via a robot yet to be invented. The control by humans
    will disappear and we will have fairness and integrity at long last.
    It may take decades of research but it WILL come.
    The shortcomings for whatever reason, of human match officials cannot be permitted to last for ever.

  • menace

    Poogins – good summary of Webb and you’re right about the wrong calls against Arsenal.

    Walters stats are based on TV replays and reviews. They are relevant but not Gospel.

    I, however, attend matches and see the PGMOL officials cheat the game of fair play. It is so predictable, yet there are some that totally flummox logic like the Aston Villa game at the Ems. It was so crooked that quite honestly a riot was averted because most fans do not realise nor understand the Laws. This ignorance allows PGMOL to mould games to suit their agenda whatever that may be.

    The amazing conspiracy theorists and their protagonists do not come into the picture. There is no conspiracy. There is a blatant cheating culture. Until the police get involved with checking for fraud, nothing will connect the two.

  • finsbury

    Nicky,
    There’s no need for automatons to get involved, though I don’t deny that it could be interesting.
    Fortunately for us fans of sport many sports have been using interactive technology for so long now that they have procedures that do not defy common sense: deference to the on field official’s judgement if the margins are close, the angles and number of views are inconclusive etc. (remembering that viewers don’t always see the information that a fourth official can refer to), this already happens in cricket and probably other sports too. If anything the use of tech. has only reinforced the quality of the on-field officials, the respect for them, whilst protecting them and their reputations from the powerful mafiosos.

    Nothing to be afraid of, unless you give advice to FUFA…

  • Chapman's Ghost

    Shard, comparing weather with ref decisions and the analysing thereof is a specious analogy. The weather is not corporeal, unlike humans, and therefore is not subject to whims, emotions, personal bias etc. Quite bizarre comparison. I’m afraid you can’t possibly judge every ref call sitting watching things on tv as you have access to a totally different aspect from the ref’s. That’s why tough calls in rugby get referred to those monitoring the game on tv screens, something that should be used in football.

  • Chapman's Ghost

    Further to that, I stress only tough calls, otherwise the game will be stop/start. Sometimes refs will get things wrong, that’s only human, it may be down to incompetence or bias or something else but not every decision can be monitored and scrutinized and then declared the ref’s fault because the ref doesn’t have the advantage of numerous camera angles at his beck and call. If there is a contentious decision like Hulk’s claim for a penalty for example then there should be a recourse to video technology.

  • bjtgooner

    @Chapman’s Ghost

    UA has been promoting the cause for video technology for quite some time.

  • Chapman's Ghost

    bjtgooner, and I applaud that. Might cut out many dubious decisions.

  • Arsenal1Again

    It’s my first opportunity to read the comments this time around Tony and here I am doing just this. It was not my wish to be rude to you personally Tony. Actually it was not my purpose to be rude at all. I added my view which remains the same as always with statistical analysis. I don’t like seeing people waste their time, it’s something I have done over half my life and it’s the anger of this which comes through in my post. For this I apologise and will not be commenting a second time on the same issue now I have had my warning. This will make things easier for you.

  • Abhishek Kumar

    @chapman’s Ghost.. It can be done similar to video replays in case of field hockey.. Every team can challenge twice in each half leading to less interruptions but stoppage at major junctions.. Infact we can also hear what refs talk..

  • oldgroover

    I like the way that technology works at cricket, tennis & rugby (for trys only), but it takes too long to review an incident and in football would interfere with he flow of the game.
    Perhaps some technical errors (like the two that led to goals in the cup final) could be prevented with certain line technology which auto informs the referee (as the goal line cameras have been so successful in doing), but judgmental decisions should be left alone completely.

  • oldgroover

    Actually I haven’t thought it through very well. Line technology wouldn’t have auto informed the referee who put the ball over the goal line for our second at the cup final, or would it have seen the error that led to the Hull second goal. So disregard my previous post.

  • Shard

    Chapman’s ghost

    corporeal, unlike humans, and therefore is not subject to whims, emotions, personal bias etc.

    Why do whims, emotions, or personal biases, the vagaries of humans matter in a statistical model more than the vagaries of ill-understood natural phenomena? Statistically they just need to be quantified and accounted for in the model. Neither can be accurately, and that according to you that seems to invalidate the statistical output. It doesn’t.

    As for video replay, I absolutely support that. No question. But I don’t see it as a panacea either. When MOTD can pretend that Koscielny’s clean tackle was actually a penalty in the opening game last season, then that is enough of a signal that if the viewer of the video is biased, they can draw any interpretation on it, except for maybe offside calls or dives where there is no contact at all (there are dives where there is contact-generated by the diver or otherwise)