The 2010 World Cup final between Spain and The Netherlands wasn’t exactly the greatest game to watch, but one man will always remember those 120 minutes in Soccer City. Howard Webb was given the ultimate responsibility of refereeing the match and it capped off a great season for the Englishman who also had the privilege of being in charge for Champions League final. The Dutch players didn’t exactly make it an easy experience for Webb and the Englishman was given an impossible task, as he was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t.
Holland players were throwing in tough tackles left, right and centre throughout the match and right from the off Webb was forced to go to his pocket on more than one occasion. The yellow cards soon started to mount up, but Webb obviously had it in the back of his mind that he didn’t want to send anyone off unless he had absolutely no choice. He managed to do this until John Heitinga gave him no options in the second half of extra time, with Webb previously showing leniency to Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong after his karate kick. Webb’s getting some stick from all sides at the moment, but surely he did what was best for the game?
The decision to keep the red card in his pocket for as long as possible was ultimately the right one. The match would have been even less of a spectacle if it was 11 vs 10 for long periods and Spain would have overrun the Dutch. As Tim Westwood says, “If he’d have sent someone off, it wouldn’t have been a good game of football at all.” This hasn’t stopped the Spanish from saying that their players weren’t protected, while the Dutch have complained about the lead up to the winning goal, which is somewhat hypocritical given the fouls they were dishing out throughout the match. I think Webb should come out with his head held high.
The big dawg himself has respect for Howard Webb and says that people should lay of the English referee. He gave a decent account of himself, something that can’t be said about Fabio Capello’s players, and gave the best performance of any Englishman at the 2010 World Cup. Overall the right result occurred, Spain deserved to win as their best players performed throughout the tournament minus their opening defeat to Switzerland, and The Netherlands didn’t approach the final in the right way. It was a victory for football, and Webb can be proud that he played a part in that.
To read Tim Westwood’s final World Cup article in full head to the News of the World website: http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/sport/877283/LAY-OFF-HOWARD-WEBB.html