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World Cup 2010 - Howard Webb: Hero or villain?
12 July 2010 @ 15:43

English referee Howard Webb's record-breaking 15-card performance in the World Cup final provoked a storm of criticism.

Webb set a record by showing 14 yellow cards and a red in Spain's bad-tempered 1-0 win against the Netherlands.

The Rotherham official came under fire from both sides. Spanish pundits were outraged by his failure to send off a Dutchman before the 117th minute, with sports daily Marca calling him "abysmal".

Meanwhile, Holland were furious about two key decisions just before the winning goal. Dirk Kuyt stormed: "I know you cannot blame others, but the referee favoured Spain. We had many more yellow cards than we deserved. That ultimately cost us the cup."

Webb was roundly booed as he and his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey received their medals after the game.

The British press were kinder, with The Sun claiming: "Webb kept his head while players lost theirs."

Is the criticism justified, or did the players give him an impossible job?

Here is a look at all the big decisions

15' Robin van Persie booked for a heavy challenge on Joan Capdevila. Good decision

16' Carles Puyol booked for a tackle from behind on Arjen Robben. Good decision

22' Mark van Bommel booked for a bad tackle from behind on Andres Iniesta. Borderline red, should at least have been a final warning. Should then have gone for persistent fouling, and kicking the ball into a prone Xavi.

23' Sergio Ramos booked for a tit-for-tat trip on Dirk Kuyt. Good decision.

28' Nigel De Jong booked for planting his studs into Xabi Alonso's chest. Bad decision. A clear red card for an appalling challenge.

42' Wesley Sneijder not booked for planting his studs in Sergio Busquets's thigh.

54' Giovanni van Bronckhorst booked for a block on Sergio Ramos. Tame by this game's standards, but probably correct.

56' Johnny Heitinga booked for a strong challenge on David Villa. Good decision.

67' Joan Capdevila booked for a cynical foul on the marauding Robin van Persie. Good decision.

84' Arjen Robben booked for mouthing off to the referee. We don't know what Robben said, but he protested furiously.

92' Spain penalty appeal for an alleged foul by Joris Mathijsen on Xavi. Replays showed Xavi kicked Mathijsen and Webb got it right.

109' Johnny Heitinga second yellow card for pulling back Iniesta. Good decision, even though Iniesta made the most of it.

112' Gregory van der Wiel booked for a trip on Iniesta. Borderline, fairly tame.

114' Arjen Robben not shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away after being correctly flagged offside.

115' Spanish goal-kick after Arjen Robben's free-kick takes a big deflection off the wall, and Iker Casillas also gets a touch. Terrible decision, how did referee and linesman both miss that?

116' Furious Dutch claims of a foul on Eljero Elia in the build-up to Iniesta's goal. Good decision by Webb, the substitute went down much too easily.

116' Half-hearted appeals for offside against both Cesc Fabregas and Iniesta for the goal. Both good decisions.

117' Andres Iniesta booked for removing his shirt after scoring. Good decision - the rules are the rules. But sad that Iniesta's tribute to Espanyol captain Dani Jarque, who died last year, earned the same punishment as De Jong's assault.

117' Joris Mathijsen booked for protesting Iniesta's goal by slamming the ball into the ground. Good decision

120' Xavi booked for kicking the ball away. Good decision.

Webb and his assistants did get most of the big decisions right, but that does not mean the referee had a good night. He failed to take firm control of the game, something at which he usually excels. His determination to keep 22 players on the pitch was clear early on, and both sides – particularly the Dutch - exploited that.

Perversely, Webb's lenient approach led to more cards than if he had made it clear he would not stand for any nonsense. Nobody likes to see a red card early in a big game, but if De Jong or Van Bommel had gone, you would need a particularly perverse mindset to blame the referee and not the players.

Source: Yahoo/Eurosport

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