Howard Webb retires from refereeing
Howard Webb has retired from a refereeing career that included a World Cup final to become technical director of the body that selects and governs Premier League match officials.
Webb, 43, ends a 25-year professional career in which he became the first man to officiate showpiece matches of both the Champions League and World Cup in the same year, a feat he achieved in 2010.
The former police officer from Yorkshire, northern England, will take up a newly created position with Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) to spearhead the training and development of future top-flight referees.
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"I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch," Webb told the Premier League's official website. "I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house for Barclays Premier League matches, been lucky enough to be involved in nine UEFA and FIFA tournaments, and taken charge of the UEFA Champions League and FIFA World Cup finals.
"Refereeing has given me so much and it's important that match officials who have had the rewards remain in the game to pass on their knowledge. I also have much more to learn about the business of refereeing and the best place for me to do that is with PGMOL. It's an incredibly positive working environment and we all have a common goal of improving refereeing.
"Over the last five years in particular we have made huge strides in terms of our accuracy, fitness and professionalism. The current Select Group are the best referees this country has ever produced and I am thrilled that I not only get the chance to continue working with them but also the opportunity to help develop the next generation of Select Group officials."
Webb also refereed at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, and was widely-praised for his performances at the last World Cup in Brazil.
The Premier League said his new position would include a "public-facing role informing and educating on refereeing matters".
PGMOL general manager Mike Riley added: "Howard has been the foremost referee of his generation and an inspiration for match officials in this country and around the world.
"We are very excited that Howard's knowledge and skills are being retained and shared for them and the rest of PGMOL's officials.
"Last season we trebled the funding for referee coaching and training and we will continue to invest in match officials from the Premier League down to the contributory leagues.
"We want to accelerate the development of referees from the semi-professional game so that we have an even stronger talent pool to pick from at Select Group level. There is no one better to lead on that than Howard Webb."
Information from the Press Association was used in this report.