Record-breaking referee Webb booed, slammed

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Howard Webb
Johannesburg, Jul 12: What should have been an experience and a memory to savour for a life time turned into a bloodbath for Englishman Howard Webb, who was the referee for the FIFA World Cup 2010 final showdown between Spain and Netherlands.

In the 57th minute when Webb pulled out the seventh yellow card of match to book the Dutch defender John Heitinga, he set a new record of the highest players ever booked in World Cup finals. A total of thirteen players were booked while the 14th card banished Heitinga from the match.

Webb heard the sample of what was to follow, when he was treated with loud booing by the Dutch fans at Soccer City when he went to collect his medal after the match.

Other voices of resentment and anger towards the Englishman followed soon from the Dutch camp.

"I don't think the referee controlled the match well," complained Bert van Marwijk.

"Both sides committed fouls. That may be regrettable for a final," he added.

The final between Spain and Netherlands was anything but the 'beautiful game' that the world sees in football. The flurry of yellow cards indicated the brute force with which the Dutch attacked the Spanish to hold them off. But the Spaniards walked off victors with style and poise.

Netherlands ace winger Arjen Robben has also spoken out against Webb.

Arguing that Spain defender Carles Puyol should have been sent off with 10 minutes from time, Robben said, "When I got my second chance, the referee should have given us a free kick and Puyol a (second) yellow card. He gave the advantage, but there was none as I could hardly move and the goalkeeper (Iker Casillas) was too close already.

"As a player, you always want to go on and especially 10 minutes before time in a World Cup final when you are heading towards the goal."

"When you play in a World Cup final, you also need a world-class referee," the Oranje player added.

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