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Referee Webb: If players 'cry wolf' too much it could be costly

Leading English referee Howard Webb admits he is wary of play-acting, suggesting it could lead to something more serious.

With more and more players going down easily in a bid to win their side a free-kick or penalty, Webb, who was in charge when Fabrice Muamba collapsed under cardiac arrest last season, fears that a 'boy cried wolf' situation could easily arise with fatal consequences.

"If people cry wolf too often then there is a possibility we will not react as we need to do," Webb told reporters.

"If we come under criticism for stopping the game too many times for doctors or physios to enter the field of play then maybe referees will be inclined not to stop the game.

"I think the message we are trying to get across is that it is always better for referees to be safe rather than sorry, not to take chances and for everyone involved in the game to understand that a referee's first priority is to look after the players in the game he is taking charge of.

"If he does stop the play, and it turns out to be nothing, it is not the referee's fault because his priority is the players."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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