Webb returned to police force

Howard Webb has returned to his former job with the police - but has no plans to quit refereeing. The decorated official, who took charge of the 2010 World Cup Final, has brought an end to the five-year sabbatical he was given to concentrate on refereeing.
Webb returned to the force, but there is no sense that this will act as an obstacle to his officiating, despite murmurings in some refereeing circles. He is obliged to work 10 hours a week with the South Yorkshire Police Force and he is being accommodated on a flexible basis to fit in with football commitments. Over the hectic Christmas period, for instance, Webb was granted full leave. And his role is ambassadorial rather than all-action. “Don't worry, he is not chasing robbers or knocking doors down”, one officer told Sportsmail. There is, nevertheless, plenty to admire in the work that Webb is doing. Sportsmail understands that he is heading up a project to provide free coaching sessions for boys and girls aged 10-19 that, according to the police, “could otherwise be on the streets”. He negotiates with headmasters, delivers motivational speeches at assemblies, appeals for funding and runs question and answer sessions. A colleague described Webb as a “fantastic, genuine man, without whom any of this would be possible”. There are nine different locations across South Yorkshire, with 400 children involved every Friday night and the hope is to expand that figure to 1,000 in 2014. In a statement to Sportsmail, Webb said: 'This is a fantastic opportunity that South Yorkshire Police have provided me with here since returning back to work. I work for ten hours per week, predominantly on crime prevention and community engagement. The Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA funding became available and it seemed logical to bring together my contacts within my refereeing work and my police work. Feedback from the schools is excellent, with reports of better behaviour from the kids already. All of the youngsters involved look forward all week to the sessions. They are motivated to improve their behaviour with the reward of football one night a week”.
The referees' governing body, PGMOL, view Webb's involvement as “incredibly positive”. In the hidden world of the match officials, there is much aspiration towards academia and over half of the Select Group Referees are studying for a Masters degree in Management. Others seek to raise money for positive causes; last year 15 officials, including Webb, Mike Jones, Martin Atkinson and Phil Dowd, ran in the Leeds 10k, raising thousands of pounds for charity.
In UEFA and FIFA circles, Webb in particular is highly respected. Their backing and support for the man one UEFA dignitary previously described to Sportsmail as the “English Collina” has never wavered. In Euro 2008, Webb drew the ire of Poland after awarding a penalty against them in Vienna. When Webb arrived for his next match, a policeman reassured him: “You will not be killed in Salzburg, Mr. Webb”. UEFA knew his decision was right and backed Webb completely, awarding him a Champions League final two years later and FIFA followed suit with the World Cup showpiece in South Africa. Recently, Webb was selected to officiate at a second World Cup in Brazil this summer.

Source: Sportsmail