Howard Webb hits out over Kevin Friend decision

The referee was removed from Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke as he lives in Leicester.

Former referee Howard Webb has hit out at the decision to remove Kevin Friend from Tottenham’s clash with Stoke, in comments to BT Sport.

The referee was removed from the game on Monday night after Spurs fans criticised the decision to appoint him on social media.

Friend, who is actually a Bristol City fan, lives in Leicester and has attended their games with friends and family, and that led to suggestions he could be biased.

The Foxes are currently top of the Premier League, with Spurs their main rivals for this season’s title race.

The decision has been widely criticised and Webb has added his voice to those doing so, saying it questions the integrity of the referees in the game.

“In my opinion, it would have been better not to appoint him in the first place,” he told BT Sport.

“Then it prevents what has happened this week, social media goes crazy about a Leicester lad doing a game involving Spurs.”

“He’d have gone out and done that game totally neutral. You can’t help but feel that your honesty and integrity has been questioned in that situation. He should have stayed on it.”

Webb is not the only one to have voiced his concerns, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also having questioned it this week.

The situation certainly sets a dangerous precedent for the Premier League in future, with teams sure to have similar complaints in future.

As Webb suggests though, the bigger issue is that the decision now brings the integrity of other referees under scrutiny, which is the opposite of what they desired.

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