World Cup Final – referee and match preview
For some, it all feels like its ending too quickly, for others they were happy for their World Cup fever to conclude a week ago. But whatever, this is the final, the fat lady is warming up and a man from Yorkshire is ready to take charge of one of the biggest occasions in sport. Does he have what it takes or could he caught caught in the web of the atmosphere?
Referee: Howard Webb (England)
Average refs rating: 8/10
Two years ago, angry Polish fans were posting YouTube videos depicting Webb as a cheat, a fascist and other slurs against him after he (correctly) penalised their national team by awarding Austria a late penalty in the opening game of Euro 2008.
The vivid documentary Referees at Work (or, rather more sensationally Kill the Referee as its US title) followed Webb and his team throughout those finals, from the disappointment and even fear of fan reprisals form that game to the low key plane ride home.
What was clear was that Webb and his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey are comitted to making the right calls, keeping the game flowing and trying to maintain a good relationship with the players, all key aspects when taking charge of these high stakes international games.
From their group games, it would suggest that’s Webb presence led to two of the main surprises of that round though in both cases, neither losing side was unfairly penalised by bad refereeing decisions (Italy fans may differ but I would point them in the direction of my review linked above). This may give Dutch supporters hope as bookies have made Spain favourites but as long the game is officialed in the correct spirit, that shouldn’t be a factor.
In terms of the players tonight, I’ve expressed my constination at the leniency given to Oranje’s Mark Van Bommel by referees and hopefully Webb, who booked the midfielder in the Champions League final, will be harsher on him if he comes in with the sort of late challenges that have been his hallmark throughout the tournament.
In contrast Spain have received only three bookings between them, the second lowest in the tournament after North Korea (who they’ve played three more games than). Arguably taking a firm standpoint, they should have had a few more (Sergio Ramos comes to mind) but have been very well disciplined by on and off the ball with David Villa’s slap on Honduras’s Emilio Izaguirre being their main blackspot. However FIFA ultimately chose to take no action against that incident, something I generally agree with.
Holland have the most bookings of any team in the competition with 15 over their six games and have suffered accusations of diving, particularly from winger Arjen Robben. The Dutch have never been famous for their calm temperament but largely they’ve kept the fighting out of the camp and off the pitch for South Africa.
Both teams have had a large amount of fouls comitted against them (only behind Uruguay who have played an extra match) and this is no doubt due to their swift attacks and the pace within their sides. It will be interesting to see how they cope with each other from a defensive point of view considering both have given away penalties thus far.
Wesley Sneidjer has committed the most fouls out of the squads tonight with 13 to his name, vastly more than Spain’s highest fouler, Sergio Busquets with 7. Conversely, Busquets has jointly drawn the most fouls from opponents in the Spanish camp along with Andreas Iniesta while ironically Van Bommel has been in the receiving end of 19 offences from his opponents (no sympathy).
Graham Poll, England’s main official at the last finals (ending in disgrace with his big mistake in the Croatia/Australia game) believes Webb’s skills match more FIFA’s ideal picture of an official than what he brought to the table.
While I don’t think Webb has been by far and away the best referee out there, he’s probably been a clutch of three or four who deserved the final – Irmatov, Baldassi, Archundia, De Bleekere and Nishimura all come to mind as men who had done enough to earn this place but certainly the Englishman has been one of the top performers and while it is impossible to predict these things in advance (especially considering the last tournament’s final and THAT red card), Webb has the attributes, the composure and the form to take full control of the game tonight and see to it that the best team wins in the best possible way. He won’t want to be noticed, as he discusses below, but we will be the first to shout his plaudits or take him to task depending on how he takes charge this evening.
FIFA referees are so sucks:@
This was simply a horrid performance, and his mistakes definitely affected the game – from not sending of de Jong, to not sending of Puyol (2nd yellow on broken through Robben), sending of Heijtinga (2nd yellow) on what basically was an Iniesta dive, and missing the two corners and foul on Elia, with Spain scoring only 30 seconds after.
Seems like he tried to compensate for not sending of de Jong and/or being tougher on van Bommel early in by favouring Spain from the 2nd half onwards.
I have to say good call on the non-penalty for Spain (the Spaniard actually kicked into Heijtinga).
Still, Robben should have decided the game in the 2nd half.
Posted from Netherlands
Webb is the worst referee ever
I hate him.
Disappointed in Webb’s performance. Silly calls and a few silly cards. The sending off in extra time was just ridiculous. No flow to the game (not necessarily Webb’s fault) led to a boring game. Spain was better team but Webb’s calls and cards drew to much attention to him.
I have to disagree with the critiques of Webb’s performance. I agree that de Jong should have been sent off, but Webb showed a lot of restraint in not sending of at least two other players (particularly from the Dutch side). The lack of flow is due entirely to the players and how they chose to play the game—needless and excessive challenges. The red to Heijtinga was well deserved. It might have been a soft foul anywhere else on the pitch, but it was a cynical profesional foul that definitely gained the Dutch an advantage. And, moreover, Robben could (shoud?) have been sent off for a second yellow when he kicked the ball into the goal well after the whistle blew in an effort to delay the restart. Webb’s restraint was commendable.
Lots of fouls yes, but very, very few were undeserved. And for what it’s worth, the assistants did a great job today–not a single missed offside/non-offside, if I recall correctly.
Don’t get me wrong. I would have preferred to see Yuichi Nishimura in the middle–I thought he had the best tournament overall. But you cannot say that the best team did not win.
Posted from United States
Holland should have been playing with 10 men by the first half.
Apart from that, there were some pretty bad refereeing mistakes, for both sides.
However the ref acted in this game, he was going to inevitably influence the game. If we actually had a Premiership style ref that allowed physical play, the Dutch would have had a better shot. But from the get-go Webb generally didn’t allow too much physical play, which basically threw away half of the Dutch’s plan.
Taken out of context with the rest of the tournament, I think Webb was consistent and relatively fair. The goalkick just prior to the winning goal was an obvious mistake, but I don’t think it was the cause of the winning Spanish goal.
To me it looked like he’d definitely gone in – or been sent in – with a “don’t red card anyone” mentality, and I think both sides took advantage of that to varying degrees.
The element that I find more concerning is how different the refereeing was for the final compared to the group stages. I can understand a bit more leniency at the final stages of the tournament, but if had been in the group stages the match would have ended up having about 15 players on the field…
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Posted from China
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