Howard Webb Didn't Rob Holland Or Spain, They Robbed Themselves, And Us

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IJuly 12, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 11:  Referee Howard Webb issues Giovanni Van Bronckhorst of the Netherlands a yellow card during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Final match between Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images


Was that it?!

Are we to believe that last night's World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain was the pinnacle of football, the biggest sport in the world?

It was less football and more "I'll kick you" versus "I'll dive over your kicks" on the field in Johannesburg.

During the game, directly after the game, and since the game, Howard Webb has been kicked from pillar to post as the man that ruined the World Cup Final. The simple fact is, he didn't. He is only partly responsible. 

What was Howard Webb meant to do with two teams who might as well have been named "Spoiled Brats I" versus "Spoiled Brats II?"

Fault must heavily lie at the feet of the players and the managers who went out with the mindset that, on one side, they would kick lumps out of the opposition, and on the other side, they would act as theatrically as possible to win as many free-kicks as possible.

Holland went out on the pitch last night with one clear objective: to kick Spain into submission. For a country that prides itself on creating "Total Football" it was horrific to watch.

While credit must be given to Spain for not getting involved in a kicking match, their continual theatrics can get a bit much, although some might argue they felt they weren't getting the protection from the referee.


Where is Howard Webb at fault?

Webb is at fault for not bringing out the cards from the off.

He booked Robin van Persie after his second cynical challenge. After that, van Persie toned down his challenges and didn't go lunging in.

If he had booked him after the first one, he wouldn't have committed the second.

The same can be applied for Nigel de Jong (how did he not see red?), Marc van Bommel (how was he still allowed play in the final?) and Johnny Heitinga.

Where Webb mainly fell down was in his hesitance in not stopping the game, calling over the two Captains, and giving them a proper rollicking: "Next bad tackle and one of your men is off?"


Where is Howard Webb not at fault?

It would seem, either by his own venture or that of FIFA, that Howard did not want to send a player off.

In any case, he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. Had he sent off Nigel de Jong for his Jackie Chan impression, Webb would have been damned for ruining the game as a spectacle. As it was, he was damned for letting the karate kid stay on the pitch.

While Webb could have handed out the dozens of cards earlier, the likelihood is that it would have had little effect. It was plain to see that neither side wanted to be controlled.

Let's take this simple fact into consideration: Howard Webb, a policeman by profession (not a full time referee) was lambasted for not keeping a bunch of primadonnas in the guise of footballers in check!

Should we not expect more from men who are getting paid in excess of £50,000, £60,000 and in some cases £100,000 a week?

Spectators would think they were getting paid to play football, where somewhere along the line that must involve actually kicking the round thing on the pitch.

A lot of this article has been taken up with condemning the Dutch, but the Spanish are no better, albeit in a different sense.

FIFA had brought into law a yellow card for imaginary card waving. For all their guff that Holland should have had a player or two sent off last night, Spain should have seen one or two march for their continual waving of the imaginary card. Xaví, I would be mainly looking at you.


Did Howard Webb have a good game?

No, but who would have done any better?

Pierluigi Collina? Even at 50 they wouldn't mess with him, would they?

Webb either missed or chose not to punish many of the events in last night's game, but if he reffed it to the letter of the law, it well could have been the first World Cup Final game to be abandoned for lack of players.

FIFA need to take a serious look at this, and so must the players.

Considering the popularity of football worldwide, and the money that comes into the game, is it really beyond the realm of reasonability to have a fully professional body of referees?

The referees need help, FIFA are short in supplying it.

The players too need to look at themselves. The tackles last night were cowardly, while some of the over-reactions and theatrics were embarrassing. In the end the right team won, having said that most of the players need to take a good luck in the mirror.

Or else they can look at the Golden Ball winner Diego Forlan. A player who played with pride and passion for his country, who created and scored goals, and who didn't resort to play-acting of any kind.

Howard Webb has to take some of the blame, but he didn't rob either side of a victory. However, both sides robbed the fans.