Howard Webb admits VAR made error over Forest penalty claim at Everton

Howard Webb admits VAR made error over Forest penalty claim at Everton

Howard Webb has conceded VAR should have intervened to recommend Nottingham Forest be awarded a penalty during their Premier League game against Everton.

The ­admission comes 10 days after Forest created a furore by publicly criticising the selection of the video referee ­Stuart Attwell, alleging he was a Luton Town supporter and lacked due impartiality.

Speaking on the television show Match Officials Mic’d Up, Webb said Attwell should have sent the referee, Anthony Taylor, to the VAR monitor to review an incident in the 55th minute when Ashley Young tackled Callum ­Hudson-Odoi from behind in the penalty area. Reviews of the audio ­footage between the referee and VAR showed that Taylor believed Young had successfully touched the ball in his tackle, which did not ­happen. Attwell, meanwhile, thought the challenge by Young was part of an ongoing “tussle”, rather than a foul.

“The referee waves away the ­penalty decision and the video assistant looks at it and asks whether the non-award was a clear and obvious error and comes to the conclusion it wasn’t,” Webb said. “He doesn’t see a clear action that he considers worthy of intervention. We would have preferred an intervention on this situation for the referee to go to the screen to make a judgment for himself and probably [we] would have come out with a different outcome if that would have happened.”

Forest’s public ­protest alleged Attwell should have ­intervened in two further penalty decisions not given by Taylor but the Premier League’s independent key match incidents panel found that Taylor’s calls had not been clear or obvious errors.

In explaining why these two ­incidents did not merit review, Webb said he felt they were “really subjective” decisions, with the first call in line with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited’s approach to penalties this season. “The first one involved some contact from Ashley Young on Gio Reyna,” Webb said. “There was contact, the referee saw that. We didn’t feel it was impactful enough to penalise … this was one where there was minimal contact.

“The second one was a handball penalty situation. The ball hits ­Ashley Young’s arm, he’s moving as he tries to close a cross down from short ­distance and the referee deemed that the arm was in a natural position and the VAR check completed that. We thought that both of those situations were in line with our expectations.”

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Webb became the chief refereeing officer of PGMOL in 2022 and has substantially increased levels of communication around refereeing decisions. But much of his public engagement has been spent trying to dampen down controversies, most notoriously when Liverpool had a legitimate goal against Tottenham mistakenly overturned by the VAR, Darren England.

In closing his remarks on the ­Everton v Forest match, Webb observed that mistakes would ­continue to be made. “The game is played by human beings, it’s ­officiated by human beings,” he said.