Case Study: Dealing Firmly With Dissent Directed at an AR

Case Study # 19-2013
Date 19 May 2013
Competition Barclays Premier League
Fixture/Result Newcastle 0 – 1 Arsenal
Referee/Badge Howard Webb, FIFA
At Issue Webb deals decisively and firmly with dissent directed at an Assistant Referee

When a player displays dissent toward a referee, s/he has the ability to decide how much they are willing tolerate, and how to sanction the player, if at all.  Assistant referees, on the other hand, have no such authority.  Of course, they may give the referee information about misconduct, but it is still up to the referee to decide whether to act upon it.

It is because of these lines of authority (clearly dictated by the Laws of the Game) that referees must take extra care to “protect” assistant referees.

In this case study, Arsenal midfielder clearly fouls Newcastle United player Mathieu Debuchy.  Assistant Referee Darren Cann (himself a FIFA AR and a regular member of Webb’s international team) is literally inches away from play and signals for the foul.  Two Arsenal players, including Gibbs, immediately engage in dissent.

Had Gibbs stopped at this point, the incident likely would’ve been over.  But Gibbs – clearly aggrieved – re-engages Cann, moving off of the field of play and into Cann’s personal space.  Webb then arrives quickly with yellow card in hand, and, as he has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to do – gets into the personal space of the player, coming almost nose-to-nose with him.

I say this each time Webb does this, but it bears repeating: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  At 6′ 4″, Webb is an imposing figure – and is a trained policeman to boot.

Gibbs retreats quickly and order is restored as Arsenal veteran Tomas Rosicky gives the young Gibbs a firm slap on the back, as if to say “settle down, son.”

Author’s note: I almost posted this in video form, but on the sixth or seventh time of watching, something caught my eye that might have been missed in the video.  You’ll know it when you see it.

5 responses to “Case Study: Dealing Firmly With Dissent Directed at an AR”

    • Sorry for all the suspense. Just the bemused look on the little girl’s face as she watches the millionaire footballer throw a tantrum.


    • I believe so. He’s 6′ 2″ and quite muscular. Plus, everyone knows he was a policeman. Having the whistle on a World Cup final can’t hurt either.


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