The PGMOL is coming under increasing scrutiny after VAR controversy in Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham, and Arsenal’s game against Manchester City.
Howard Webb, the chief of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), is facing mounting pressure following a series of refereeing blunders in recent Premier League matches.
The credibility of Webb and his match officials has been called into question, prompting calls for a ban on referees officiating games in other countries.
The controversy surrounding the issue has raised concerns about bias and the integrity of decision-making in football.
One of the most notable incidents occurred during Liverpool’s defeat to Tottenham, when Luis Díaz’s goal was wrongly disallowed for offside despite VAR Darren England reviewing the incident.
It was later revealed that England and his assistant VAR Dan Cook had officiated a match in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) just two days prior.
A similar controversy arose during Manchester City’s loss to Arsenal, as referee Michael Oliver failed to send off Mateo Kovačić for a dangerous tackle on Declan Rice.
Oliver had also officiated the recent match in the UAE, where the owner of Manchester City is the vice-president.
While there is no suggestion of bias in these specific incidents, the Football Supporters’ Association and Arsenal’s supporters’ trust are among those demanding action from Webb.
“Football relies on supporters having confidence in the integrity of the game’s decision making. So, when there is an inevitable perception issue, as in this case, it is important that it is addressed,” a spokesperson for the Arsenal supporters’ trust told the Telegraph.
Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Association, added: “We don’t want referees to be tired when they’re refereeing games and we don’t want there to be any perceptions of possible bias.”
In response to the controversy, the PGMOL has confirmed that it will review its policy regarding referees officiating in other countries.
The audio from discussions between England, Cook, and referee Simon Hooper regarding Díaz’s disallowed goal has been released, further highlighting the need for scrutiny and improvement.
The PGMOL and The FA have agreed to assess the policy allowing match officials to officiate matches outside of FIFA or UEFA appointments.