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What did you think of Howard Webb’s World Cup final performance?


English referee Howard Webb set a record in Sunday's World Cup final by dishing out 15 cards, 14 yellows and one red.

From the 15th minute on, when Webb showed a yellow card to Robin van Persie, he was quick to his pockets in some instances and showed restraint on other fouls, electing to show Nigel de Jong just a yellow card for a high boot into Xabi Alonso's chest.

The tough, physical approach adopted by the Dutch made it a difficult game to officiate, and it only seemed like a matter of time before Webb showed a red card — with Johnny Heitinga shown a second yellow in extra time.

With Webb under scrutiny after Sunday's game, here's a question for SBI readers: what did you make of his performance? Have your say in the poll below.

How did you vote? Think Webb did a good job? Or did he perform poorly?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Here’s my thinking:

    1. The netherlands went into the game seeking to play defensively and break Spain’s rhythm with fouls (especially on the midfielders) and use their size advantage and then look for breakaways or a PK. When they did those things and didn’t catch a lucky break (such as calling the PK on the Puyol foul or not carding Puyol out of the match), they got angry. They felt like they executed their strategy and got denied a break.

    2. I think Webb’s philosophy was that if he showed restraint, gave some yellow cards but didn’t eject anyone and offered stern language/warnings than players would straighten up and play the game. Unfortunately, the Netherlands just used the opportunity to continue to pound on Spain. Which led to some retaliation and some play acting as a response to the Dutch abuse. And we got more yellows (and eventually some ejections).

    3. What Webb is guilty of, is showing restraint early, trying to avoid tossing a player from the game in the first half (which, realistically, would have decided the match if it had come anytime other than the last 15 minutes) and calling advantage frequently (which led to fouls and retaliation off the ball as play continued). It’s easy to say he should have tossed De Jong or Van Bommel early (at least in the first half) but we saw the difference between a referee being rigid about the rules vs. one seeking to use the rules to try to promote a real game in the biggest soccer match on the planet. And instead, he encountered a side determined to play abusively as much as possible. If he had tossed a player or two in the first half, we’d have a series of articles about how the Spanish win was “tainted” and “wouldn’t it have been wonderful to see how the game could have been if they hadn’t been down 1-2 players by halftime?”

    No, this game was determined when Van Marwijk decided not to go with Van der Vaart. When RVdV played against Uruguay, we saw a Dutch side that was far more flowing and fluid and seeking the game and taking it to the opponent, not a team built around 4 defenders staying home and 2 destroyers in midfield.

    To argue that Webb lost control of the game is to assume that the Dutch behaved the way they did because they lost emotion or misread how the game was being called or that it was uneven (with calls only going for the Spanish). None of that is true. The Dutch played the way they did out of a calculated approach seeking to get the Spanish out of their rhythm and then seek a break to give them a goal.

  2. Agreed – I think a simple solution to curb the “I just got shot – wait, no I didn’t” theatrics is to make the team play short for an extended period of time. If you have to be treated on the field, you’re automatically held off the pitch for the next 10 minutes or so – ought to make Iniesta think twice about his shameful display.

  3. I agree whole-heartedly. When Heitinga was sent off, Iniesta initiated the dive after the contact had concluded. He knew he dribbled too far ahead of himself and flopped, hoping for a call. And Webb fell for it.


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