Howard Webb: Feigning injury could cost lives

Howard Webb
© PA Photos
Howard Webb calls for players to stop feigning injury following Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest earlier this year.

Premier League referee Howard Webb has issued a warning to all footballers, claiming that feigning injury could cause match officials to slowly react in dangerous situations.

The Yorkshire-born former policeman has been speaking for the first time about Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba's cardiac arrest, which was suffered during an FA Cup clash between the Trotters and Tottenham Hotspur, which Webb was officiating.

"The fact that he wasn't rolling around screaming in agony, the way he went down with no contact, meant immediately it was serious," said Webb. "And it was not only me - the players recognised it. You see William Gallas's reaction - an opposing player - immediately waving to the bench to come on.

"If the game had not been stopped within 20 or 30 seconds, that might have made a difference to his chances of recovery.

"One of our obligations as a referee is to try and observe fair play and keep the game flowing when we can. But, if players cry wolf too many times, then there is a possibility that maybe we will not react in the way we need to do based on what we saw there."

Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba was one player accused of using fake injuries as a tactical ploy during the Premier League this season.

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