Manager, player behaviour towards referees ‘not good enough’, says Webb

“We need everybody in the game supporting a movement towards a more respectful environment,” he said.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confronts referee Paul Tierney
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp confronts referee Paul Tierney

The behaviour of managers and players towards match officials this season “has not been good enough”, says referees’ chief Howard Webb.

A number of Premier League managers including Jurgen Klopp, Marco Silva and Roberto di Zerbi have served touchline bans after being sent off. Webb says a “stronger” approach is needed to try and address the issue.

“We need everybody in the game supporting a movement towards a more respectful environment,” he said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, the chief refereeing officer of the Professional Game Match Officials Limited added: “It’s clear it has not been good enough. Everybody acknowledges we need to be stronger in dealing with behaviours not at the acceptable level.

“I think for a long time referees have taken a conciliatory approach, I did it as well. I didn’t want to overreact and ruin the game in the moment.

“But that’s not fared well in the bigger picture and we need to collectively look at ways we can change the trend — and it does need changing. We all accept that.”

The issue of manager and player behaviour towards officials has been brought into focus this season after a number of high-profile incidents.

Liverpool boss Klopp was given a one-match ban after he was sent off against Manchester City in October for berating the referee’s assistant. The German is also waiting for the result of a Football Association charge for comments he made about referee Paul Tierney after a game against Tottenham last month.

Fulham manager Silva has served two separate touchline bans, including for an incident during the Cottagers’ FA Cup defeat at Manchester United in March that also saw striker Aleksandar Mitrovic banned for eight games for pushing referee Chris Kavanagh.

Brighton boss Di Zerbi has been sent off twice — including for a melee that also saw then interim Tottenham manager Cristian Stellini dismissed — and served one touchline ban.

Webb says there is a desire from all parties to tackle the problem and is hopeful changes implemented over the summer will have a positive impact.

“For quite some time now there’s been a group of people from all aspects of the game coming together to look at participant behaviour and come up with some steps that we think will make a difference and those will be implemented during the close season,” added Webb.

“We will be speaking to the clubs, the managers, the players, the media, everybody involved, to lay out what those look like. I get the sense there is a stronger desire now than before for this to happen. We have a great product and a great league and we don’t need some of the behaviour we have seen to continue.”