NBC Sports is launching a special episode entitled Match Officials Mic’d Up this Monday on its YouTube channel. The program allows us to hear previously unreleased audio of Premier League referees for the first time.

The broadcast includes unreleased audio between referees and VAR officials from the 22/23 Premier League season with explanations from PGMOL chief Howard Webb and former footballer Michael Owen. Airing on Sky Sports before Monday’s Liverpool versus Leicester game, the Premier League has made the program available to broadcasters worldwide.

Faced with plenty of confusion and dissatisfaction about VAR rulings in the Premier League, the episode aims to help soccer fans better understand how decisions are reached, as well as reducing animosity and disillusionment about VAR in general.

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Missed opportunity for Match Officials Mic’d Up

Disappointingly, NBC Sports has chosen not to broadcast the episode on television. Instead, it’ll air only on its YouTube channel.

While it’s good news that the program is available to viewers in the United States, it would have been better if NBC Sports had put the show on television (USA Network, preferably) or on Peacock, where most Premier League fans go to after USA Network.

Putting it only on YouTube means that most fans of Premier League clubs in the United States are unlikely ever to see it.

Regardless, it’s a step forward in the right direction for PGMOL to push to make this happen. Perhaps hearing the referees speaking with VAR officials and footballers on the pitch is going to give his a better understanding and appreciation for how they reach decisions. Audio of referees being broadcast before has been trialed by Ligue 1 with positive results. But what it doesn’t do is change the laws of the game. At the end of the day, IFAB needs to change the laws of offside and handball to reduce confusion. Without that, Howard Webb’s efforts are not going to work as well as he thinks.

Photo: IMAGO / Focus Images