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21st Aug 2023

Why British referees don’t wear mics as fans make suggestion after Women’s World Cup

Charlie Herbert

Why British referees don’t wear mics as fans make suggestion after Women’s World Cup

The NFL-style announcements to the stadium have been praised

The Women’s World Cup has been a resounding success, featuring thrilling football, major shocks and packed out stadiums.

Another memorable aspect of the tournament though has been to do with the officiating, with the referees announcing their VAR decisions to the crowd through a microphone at each game.

This was demonstrated in the final on Sunday morning, in which Spain beat England 1-0 to win the World Cup for the first time in their history.

The match was officiated by US referee Tori Penso, and in the second half she awarded Spain a contentious penalty for handball.

Having initially missed the incident on the pitch, the VAR decided Penso should go to the pitchside monitor and review the decision.

Eventually, the ref decided it was indeed a penalty, and told the crowd and viewers at home that it was being given because of a “punishable handball by No.4.”

Since the introduction of VAR, one of the main complaints has been that fans in the stadium are left in the dark as to why a decision has been taken or overturned, so the idea of announcing decisions to the crowd felt like a breath of fresh air to many.

This lead some to wonder why this couldn’t be introduced in the Premier League and other domestic competitions.

Speaking to talkSPORT, former Premier League referee Howard Webb, who is now the director of the Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL) explained why this isn’t possible at the moment.

Whilst he said he wanted referees to be “as transparent as we can”, he explained that FIFA currently doesn’t allow for the audio between VAR officials and the on-field ref to be played during the game.

But he implied that referees announcing decisions to fans in the stadium, like officials do in the NFL, could one day be a common sight in the UK.

Webb said we “had the opportunity” to let mic’d up referees tell fans in the stadium what the verdict was, and that we “might” see this in club football as he wants to “draw the curtain back” and “push” the parameters laid down by FIFA.

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