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.

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

  1. Mitch says:

    When Robben was grabbed around the waste by Pujols to break up the one on one with the keeper I lost it. Webb had to have seen it. Free kick out side the box and Pujols should have been sent off with his second yellow. I thought that was pretty obvious.

  2. John V. says:

    Should have red-carded De Jong. Other than that, no problems with the officiating. Just a terrible display by the two teams.

  3. Stephen says:

    I agree. That was a clear red. He was quick with the yellows in the first.

  4. Marcus says:

    It seemed strange that with all the players that could have warranted two yellow cards, neither of Heitinga’s cards were actual fouls.

  5. Stephen says:


  6. Stephen says:

    Sorry that goes with my above reply.

  7. Stuart Holden says:

    He would have been beter off if he had red carded De Jong for the Cantona-style high stepping.

    After that it was hard to take him seriously.

  8. SG says:

    He did the Champions League Final too correct? he was prob worse in that game than the WC Final. Why is he used in the final for two of the latest major Finals? kinda seems odd. I know they rank officials but I don’t think he should have done both finals

  9. slr says:

    I thought Webb played the advantage, and since Robben screwed up, it was his fault not Webb’s. Had Robben went down, it would have been an obvious red.

  10. Andy says:

    I can’t believe that the Dutch are complaining about Webb’s refereeing. They should be thanking him on their knees that they finished the 90 minutes with more than 8 players on the pitch.

    The Dutch performance was disgraceful (even the Dutch press are slamming them) and, if anything, Webb was lenient, not wanting to be accused of ruining a final with quick reds (however deserved). Yeah, he arguably didn’t call a soft foul on Puyol against Robben, but considering 8-man Holland wouldn’t have had that opportunity, it was a deserved non-call.

  11. slr says:

    I thought Webb did a good job, and even though De Jong’s karate kick could have warranted a red card (and I have no sympathy for De Jong), I’m glad Webb kept the game 11 v 11 because a red at that point ruins the spectacle and gift wraps the World Cup for Spain. I think Spain would be much happier with how they won the World Cup rather than winning it by being up a man for an hour.

  12. Hopper says:

    I thought Webb was a joke. The two teams didn’t make it easy on him, but both De Jong and Van Bommel should have been sent off in the first half for a couple of horrendous tackles. Sneijder got off lucky as well for a studs-up challenge.

  13. kpugs says:

    Webb didn’t have a great game. But he did have a very good one. The Dutch made no secret that it was their goal from the start to play a rough, physical match. Them admitting that and then complaining about the ref is beyond me. Well done Mr. Webb.

  14. BFBS says:

    Where he had to make a judgment call, and there many such instances, he did a very solid job (and yes, I am a believer, to a point, in the ref “managing” the game rather than killing it by sending off players, even if warranted, as in case of Van Bommel, De Jong, and Pujols). He did make one mistake where his decision was NOT subject to a judgment call that turned out to be significant – awarding a goal kick to Spain rather than a corner to the Dutch following Snejder’s free kick.

  15. Brian says:

    Sounds like you are rewarding a player that dives instead of plays on. Robben was definitely impeded and was unable to shoot because of Puyol. Even if you play the advantage Robben loses the ball to Casillas because of Puyol’s grabbing.

  16. papi grande says:

    best ref at the tournament that does a great job regularly in the EPL, especially in the big games (read: man united vs chelsea, and others of the same ilk) also does a great job in the big games of champions league did a great job for the world cup final yesterday.

  17. David says:

    I thought it was an all around poorly officiated game. He was inconsistant with his bookings and went to the cards way to often. The 15 minutes in the first half where he gave out 5 was embarassing to watch. The fact De Jong stayed on was poor, I don’t care if it gift wraps the game to Spain he should have been sent off. What’s worse watching 10 v. 11 or a hackfest for 120 minutes? He called a couple goal kicks that should have been corners as well.

  18. jb says:

    Thought he showed admirable restraint, considering the pressure and the physical/dirty play of the dutch. I doubt many could have remained as patient when both teams swarmed him over every call. If anyone screamed in my face like Robben did him it would be difficult not to react with violence. Maybe if Robben spends the energy he uses in crying and flopping to finish his chances the result of this final is different.

  19. Rusty says:

    De Jong put Webb into a near-impossible situation at the 25th minute with his ninja impression (almost literally) onto Alonso’s chest. Oddly enough, I think he made the right call. If it was any other game, that should (and most likely would) have been a red. But for the biggest game every four years, did it really make sense to have one team down a player for 65 minutes? Say what you will about what the laws of the game say, Webb’s hands would have been a hell of a lot more full if he showed the red. My sense was that Webb put De Jong on a VERY tight string for the rest of the game, and the Dutchman behaved accordingly. It was perhaps least bad call to be given under the circumstances.

    As for the number of cards he showed, he didn’t have much of a choice. All in all, given the fact that the Dutch decided to play ugly, he did about as well as you can hope for.

  20. UnitedinTX says:

    I for one wanted to keep the game competitive and agreed with Webb at the time for not pulling the red in the first half. But now given how the Dutch are blaming him for losing the game anyway, i’m going back on that thought and think now that he should have pulled the red card on DeJong. Once that decision was made, i think we would have had a different game. and all the wining from anybody would have been for nothing, because NOBODY can argue that DeJong did not deserve that red card.

  21. Matt says:

    15 cards, 14 yellows and one red.


    Does that count include two yellows and a red for Heitinga, or one yellow and one red because the second yellow became red, or does it just count as one red because the two yellows combined to make a red?

  22. joe k says:

    you know what else ruins the spectacle? dirty fouls. bunches of dirty fouls ruin the game.

  23. Mitch says:

    True, the second obvious mistake he made was on that. Although, I liked to watch the game go the distance with 11 on 11.

  24. moosecat says:

    DeJong should have seen red. I would have rather seen a 6-0 Spain win than that crap the Dutch and Howard Webb foisted upon the world of football yesterday.

  25. Matt says:

    I thought he had a very solid game though not a perfect one. Of course the ref is going to make mistakes. However, he did a good job of not making a call that would decide the game. In reality, the biggest mistake was not giving DeJong the red card. However, he showed restraint in several decisions. He had a tough match particularly with the Dutch physical play (read Van Bommel is a maniac) as well as their persistence all tournament to embellish and flop. Ultimately, the best team won. The Dutch had 2 glorious chances to finish and they didn’t. That isn’t Webb’s fault. I’m more or less mystified about the scrutiny he is receiving.

  26. JimBob says:

    It would have been a different game had DeJong being sent off on that kick. The game would have opened up a lot. and i don’t think we would have gotten to the point of Robben almost being pulled down on that breakaway. It would have also sent a clear message to both teams to cool it. I don’t think Iniesta would have dared retaliate knowing that he could also see red.
    Webb wanted to keep all the players on the pitch and give both teams a chance. But i don’t think it turned out that way. Now the Dutch are saying that the ref was pro-Spain, when clearly Webb did them a huge favor by not giving a couple of reds to their team early on in the game.

  27. moosecat says:

    DeJong seeing red there is more important than ever. Why turn the game into a fiasco of cheap shots? A red card there might have put an end to the crap we saw all night from the Dutch. It was a disgrace to total football.

  28. mcjoness says:

    You know you keep referring to a St. Louis Cards player, right?

  29. Daniel says:

    It was tough to officiate but he was lacking. It bugged the heck out of me to see the spanish players rolling on the ground like they broke their leg every time they got touched. Shoot, if you play against me and act like I broke your leg when I barely touched you then the next time we collide I’m going to try to break your damn leg. I think that’s some of what we saw from the Dutch as the game went on.

    So the differences I wished I saw: I wish he would have given a yellow early for play acting to end that crap. I wish he red carded De Jong for the jump kick(no place for that). And I wish he gave a penalty and ejected Puyol on the Robben break.

    He did not keep the game honest and flowing and that isn’t on the Dutch that is on the ref.

  30. moosecat says:

    well said JimBob.

    no question Nigel DeThug should have been disgraced and sent off the field.

  31. Msl says:

    It’s not a Dive if you were fouled and go down but robben did not… He elected to play on and unfortunately was unable to put the ball under casillas. Granted I still feel Webb could have given puyol a second yellow for the foul but once robben continues to play on past puyol it’s difficult to bring that play back. Robben had his cake and wanted to eat it too..

  32. k says:

    agree with you Daniel, can’t believe how everyone says the dutch were dirty but no one will talk about how half of the yellow cards were for diving by spain when they weren’t even touched. clean up both sides, stop the rough takles and stop the play acting; combined they made for a terrible game.

  33. UnitedinTX says:

    I agreed with this too at the time. But later on as the game progressed it was clear that the players were taking risks because the ref had shown leniency on that call. a clear example of that is Iniesta retaliating on his tackle. No ref likes it when a player retaliates. The game got worse, all because of that call.

  34. Smacking says:

    I agree in part. He looked like he was trying to call a tight game, but wouldn’t make a call that could decide the game. It’s just an impossible task to ask of a single individual. He did okay under the circumstances, but in the end I don’t think FIFA is treating the players, countries or refs fairly.

  35. Wispy says:

    Yeah, Pujols should have been sent off anyway because he’s a baseball player.

  36. Josh says:

    Definitely should’ve red-carded de Jong, and probably should have shown red to van Bommel when he took out Iniesta a few minutes earlier. If anybody deserved a red for accumulated infractions over the course of the tournament, it was MvB.

    Hindsight is always 20/20, and I know that Webb was understandably reluctant to send a player off so early in a WC final, but in retrospect, his yellows only enabled the Dutch team’s dirty play (and by extension Spain’s diving), as they realized that he didn’t want to send anybody off.

    Again, this is all hindsight, but I think that only a red for MvB or NdJ would’ve allowed Webb to keep control of the match. It also would have allowed him to give a Spanish player a yellow for diving, which could have set the tone for the rest of the match.

  37. PTI says:

    De Jong really elevated his game to goon status with the Judo kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest. I still cringe thinking about that challenge. Some gold plated teeth to match his ear studs and he is high flying. As you can tell, I am still bitter about his leg-breaking tackle on Holden in the USA vs. Netherlands “friendly”. Wait for the Karma to come back and get De Jong on that one. Van Der Vaart should have started for the Dutch vs. De Jong.

    Webb did a solid job in a game that the Dutch admit to trying to physically stifle and beat up the very impressive and technical Spanish side (minus the diving on a few occasions). The Dutch knew that Webb was going to avoid game changing red cards and so they exploited that and ruined what could have been a great game between two great teams. I commend Webb for keeping his head and for officiating a really difficult high stakes match.

  38. The bums will always lose says:

    Could he have done better? Absolutely. Spain dove way too much, and complained about every freaking call. A few timely yellows would have hopefully put an end to that. For the Dutch, I don’t care what the stage/circumstances are, DeJong should have been sent off for the karate kick to the chest of Alonso. On top of that, VanBommel probably deserved a second yellow on about 4 different occasions. I’ll disagree on the Robben/Puyol breakaway, I feel like Webb played advantage when Robben got loose and was 1v1 with Casillas. I feel like that was the right call seeing as Robben (for once) didn’t go down like he’d been shanked and had a legit chance to put that away. The only reason that play is even being discussed is because Robben choked on the finish and couldn’t slot it.

    In the end, that was an impossible task for any referee and the bottom line for me is this: Even after the fact, there’s no one else I would have rather seen in the middle of the field for that game. Could you imagine if some of these other clowns from this WC had reffed that game? Christ, Larrionda would’ve had the match at 8 v 9 by halftime.

  39. Ted in MN says:

    In my opinion, if you had put the Dutch down a man (and Webb should have though i’m not going to say it was anything approaching a terrible call) they would have done even more chasing, been even later and eventually Van Bommel would have broken somebody’s leg (considering its Van Bommel, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had somehow managed to break Iker Casillas’ leg) and eventually the Dutch would have finished with 8 or 9 men.
    I really don’t think a red card would have helped. That being said, I thought it was deserved.

  40. A-Lott says:

    Unlike many, I don’t think the Dutch played particuarly dirty yesterday. Other than De Jong’s crane-kick to Xabi Alonso’s chest–which warranted a red card–no other Dutch contact approached Puyol’s Mortal Kombat leg-sweep of Robben. While the Netherlands did rack up a record nine cards over the course of the game, two were awarded for protesting and at least three were the result of shameless Spanish dives–including a yellow which Webb awarded only after Villa lay on the field making cry-baby faces for two full minutes while play went on. The Dutch were tough and physical, but not egregiously so, in my opinion.

    I thought Webb lost control of the match the moment he carded Heitinga for the Villa dive well after the actual play. It was clear from the first minutes that Spain were going to use the Dutch defense’s reputation for physicality against them. They came out rolling around every time an orange shirt grazed them. Webb smartly held the whistle in the first half, and Spain seemed to keep their feet beneath them because they knew fouls weren’t forthcoming. After Webb gave in to Villa’s Peter-Griffin-with-a-hurt-knee routine, Spain flopped with abandon.

    It was sour to me that Iniesta scored the winner after his dive gave Spain a man advantage. Also disappoint was that Robben wasn’t rewarded for gutsy play rather than going to ground.

  41. Sushant says:

    I don’t understand the complaints from the Dutch about Webb.

    de Jong deserved a RED for his karate kick. Webb tried to let the players settle it on the field and wasn’t going to give anything easy. If he had done his job and red-carded de Jong, the Dutch would have lost in regulation. Everything after that incident was a bonus to the Dutch. If Spain had been playing 11v10, would Robben gotten the breakaways? Would Robben have to come back even more to help defend and wouldn’t be in a position for a breakaway? My guess is that 11v10 for 1 hour would have killed the Dutch.

    As for the Robben fouls, I think Webb wasn’t going to give them anything that unless it was clear cut, as a way to equal out the no red on de Jong.

    I can’t believe the Dutch don’t want the Red on de Jong PLUS the foul on Robben. Would the Dutch have wanted the Red on de Jong and hope the game would have played out in such a way that Robben was in the same position?

    How many people (aside from the Spain fans) have written in that they had preferred the game go 11v11?

    Get a clue Dutch! If de Jong gets the deserved Red card, Robben probably never gets a breakaway and Heitenga won’t get 2 yellows because the game ends in regulation with Spain winning.

  42. Ross says:

    I agree…..i think he was reluctant to put the Dutch 1 down so early on….If it weren’t the final i think he would have probably pulled out the red.I think he called a darn good game compared to officiating we saw other WC games.Webb called a fair game IMO!

  43. phil says:

    hear hear!

  44. daggius says:

    it’s not webbs job to “make it a good game” by not giving reds.

    if van bommel comes flying into iniesta from behind with no intention of getting the ball, that’s a red card for a reckless challenge.

    if de jong kicks a guy in the chest with his cleats that’s a red card for violent conduct.

    if the game gets ruined by having people sent off then that’s THEIR OWN FAULT FOR MAKING ATROCIOUS CHALLENGES. howard webb needed to step up and give out the red cards where they were due, not pussyfoot around like a pansy at cinderellas freaking ball. what a garbage bit of officiating and the dutch are a complete joke.

    and robben could have gone down under puyols challenge but then he only would have gotten a free kick. he elected to stay up, thus playing advantage in attempt to score the goal himself. he f*cked up the goal scoring attempt and that’s his own fault, just like how its Ghana’s fault they couldn’t score the penalty after suarez knocked it off the line with his hand. dutch are garbage.

  45. phil says:

    You know, the one point that hasn’t been made is that if the Dutch went down a man, they may have made a few subs and changed tactics and actually gotten one or two on a break or counter.

    Hindsight is 20/20 and i though that Webb’s judgement was sound for not sending deJong off even though it was deserved, but there’s nothing to say that the Dutch woulod have been dead and buried at that point and it would have changed the tone of the fouling that had been happening up to that point.

    How van Bommel and deJong have careers is beyond me. But hey Terry gets away with it all day long as well, so what do I know?

  46. peterjh says:

    Maybe you were watching in a crwded bar, but I think it’s pretty obvious that De Jong’s foul wasn’t the only brutal one: link to espn.go.com

    “no other Dutch contact approached Puyol’s Mortal Kombat leg-sweep of Robben.” Watch the video.

  47. Gunnersfan66 says:

    Webb did a great job given the play on the field. He played his role just as he should have. He did not decide the game. Best ref of the tourney, hands down.

  48. vivalosburros says:

    I think he got a lot wrong on both sides
    De Jong should have received a red, Van Bommel should have picked up a second yellow somewhere. Iniesta should have received a yellow for hitting Van Bommel and should have picked up about 3 yellows for dives. Puyol should have received a red for taking down Robben. Heitinga should not have gotten a red for a dive from Iniesta.
    Now a couple of things about this list (and it could be longer): many of these are unlikely to have happened if Webb made the right calls from the beginning. If De Jong gets sent off the Spanish likely win, however, just because the ref made a bad call there does not justify the bad calls he made elsewhere.
    Secondly, and I think that this is a major talking point that goes beyond the final and who should win, there should be a frank discussion about diving. As Webb called the game it only makes sense for players to dive. Robben gets fouled but does not go down, the foul stopped Robben’s momentum so there is no advantage, but he does not call it. Then Iniesta dives about three times, the last resulting in a red for Heitinga. The plays that got Heitinga a red and did not get Puyol a red were very similar. The differences being Robben did not fall, while Iniesta dove, and Puyol fouled Robben, while Heitinga barely touched Iniesta.

  49. vivalosburros says:

    That is an incorrect understanding of advantage and a foul. There is no need for a player to fall for a foul to be committed and called. Even more important you are setting up a terrible precedent where players should go down at the slightest contact and have no incentive to stay on their feet.

  50. scott47a says:

    I’m with Andy.

    The Dutch played anti-soccer and were lucky not to have both their center-mids sent off.

  51. Kevin_Amold says:

    I could not disagree more about “half the yellow cards were for diving by spain when they weren’t even touched.”

  52. Jeff says:

    It wasn’t much of a foul. Seemed to me to be a completely typical defensive play. Robben had just done the same thing to Puyol when he was between him and the ball. Robben was still able to stay on his feet and keep his stride, but, unfortunately for him, was not able to evade the second defender AND take the ball around the committed Casillas for an easy goal.

    It is also ironic that he chose this as the one time not to flail around, grimace and fall to the turf with the slightest touch — the one time that he might *might* have had a reasonable case. Satisfying payback for a tournament of pitiful diving for Robben.

    Webb did just fine as far as I’m concerned, though I obviously agree De Jong deserved straight red. Dutch could have been playing two men down most of the match if he had called everything he should have — no room to complain.

  53. Yinka Double Dare says:

    True fact*: Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel in the Dutch language mean “studs up tackle” and “late from behind”.

    *100% not factual

  54. macheath says:

    The game opened, Spain got off three solid attempts in twelve minutes, and the Dutch decided to go physical. Van Persie gets a car for a second bad foul after being warned, around the 15th minute. Then Puyol, retaliation, 17th minute. Then Van Bommel (finally!), 22nd minute, for a thuggish tackle from behind. Then Ramos at the 23rd minute. So far, two cards per team, Webb has now made it clear to these experience, professional players how he is going to call the game.

    Then DeJong attacks Alonso, 28th minute, and Webb makes a mistake–doesn’t send DeJong off, and let Holland play a man down for 72 minutes. But no more bad fouls in the half, Webb’s carding strategy seems to be holding, and Spain doesn’t retaliate for DeJong.

    Which of these cards would you not have given/? The only mistake I see is that Webb didn’t toss DeJong. Webb had an excellent first half, communicated to professional players what the standards were going to be, and they then have to adjust (as they do in every, frigging, game they play.)

    Then a second half flurry–Van Bronckhorst at 54, Heitinga at 57, Capedavila at 67. But notice we have Holland with five, and Spain with three. Rest of the cards for fouls come in the overtime. We can ignore Robben’s for dissent beyond any limit, Iniesta for the shirt pull after the goal, and Xavi for time wasting.

    Look, the Dutch couldn’t stay with Spain, and they decided to get physical to try and win the World Cup. Webb did the best he could–muffed a restart near the end, but he and his ARs got the offside calls right. Germany-Spain semifinal had NO cards. Think that is because of differential refereeing, or different play by the two teams? Holland watched Spain dominate Germany with possession, decided (probably correctly) they couldn’t win that way, and turned up the heat. And they got caught. Webb did ok.

  55. war says:

    The only thing that comes to mind is the obvious deflection for the corner from Sneijder’s free kick that Webb called for a goal kick. Then the Spanish scored afterwards…

  56. jmac says:


  57. Peter says:

    I think Webb had a very good match. I actually think he was screened on the DeJong “challenge” by Van Bommel. He probably saw that the leg was very high and that contact probably happened, but I don’t think he saw the full force of the kick. I would think, had he had a clear view, he would have given a straight red – WC final or not.

    I keep reading about the missed corner kick in the 114th minute. Yes, clear miss, but Spain did not come down and score right after that. The Dutch took over possession off the goal kick and lost the ball in the corner of the field. So, yes it was a missed call on the CK, but it did not directly lead to the goal.

    Also, I keep hearing about “too many cards too early”. Well, aside from the Ramos card (which was borderline), which card of the 5 in the first half would people not want to be shown?

  58. ... says:

    it includes the 2 yellows and the red given to Heitinga.

  59. h. pario says:

    hey, he gave yellow card to early in the game and failed to control the game at the end. Thanks everyone for supporting. Cheers!

  60. Mason says:

    Advantage acknowledges a foul. There is no need to stop play because the offending team has not gained by fouling. Furthermore, players do go down to destroy advantage, and cause refs to blow for a foul. It is unavoidable with the LOTG as they are currently codified.

  61. Waterlewd says:

    These comments are too cumbersome to read. It’s a comment, not an essay!

  62. jjraines says:

    Yep. There’s a reason diving and embellishments are so prevalent — the despicable behavior is condoned by the likes of Msl.

    Falling without being forced to, by definition, is faking it. Therefore it is essentially a dive.

  63. Mason says:

    The first yellow was called by the near side assistant or fourth official. After Webb stopped play you can see him covering his mouth and looking down the near touch line to the AR/4O. After that he gives the card. He didn’t see it since he was turning to follow the ball, but had he, he probably would have given advantage, because Spain was still pressing after it.

    The second was a clear USB (“Professional foul”) for a tug on the shoulder.

  64. EA says:

    I think all three responses are accurate at certain points in the game.

  65. jjraines says:

    Exhibit 1a for the absurdity of soccer rules: Dejong Kung-fu kicks a dude in the chest, it’s a yellow. 6 minor fouls at various other points in the game = same penalty.

    De Jong should have been sent off, but that wasn’t the only bad call made. He was way too card-happy, and as always, it contributed to the rough, ugly game. Compare it to both semis and Uru-Ger where the ref called virtually nothing and wasn’t buying a damn thing — very fluid games, with very few fouls.

    I’m not blaming the ref for the hackery that was on display, but it did contribute to the overall crap we saw for a final.

  66. Jose says:

    i think that webb have instructios from blater and grondona to keep 22 players for the 90 minutes.

  67. Pico says:

    Webb had a difficult job to start with made worse by the Dutch tactics to counter the Spanish play. And under those conditions he was setup to be vilified regardless of the outcome. I doubt any other official would have done better trying to manage the game and affecting the outcome from early on.

    If Webb had awarded the rightly deserved red cards to DeJong and Van Bommel, then the match would have had a completely different outcome and you would still have the Dutch blaming the ref for the result. The final game would have been ruined and the organizers would have been really upset.

    There needs something to be done about the referees because the game and players have gotten so much faster and stronger and these individuals have a hard time trying to keep up with it.

    Whatever solution FIFA institutes whenever they decide to address the issue, I just hope they do no turn the sport into American football.


  68. Marc Silverstein says:

    the match needed an early red card, the Dutch essentially challenged him to give it and yet Webb decided to let them play, we all suffer as a result.

  69. DC Josh says:

    He did as much as he could with his own two eyes. I’d give him a percentage of 70% on making the right calls. But it’s evident the main official needs help. He missed clear deflections that should have been corners. Missed Iniesta’s dive that resulted in Heitenga being sent off. The game has become too fast to have only three officials. It’s plain as day FIFA needs to make changes.

    Overall he did well. The Dutch were throwing in dirty tackles left and right. Webb stuck to his guns by allowing the play to flow.

  70. c@c.com says:

    I thought he did a pretty good job.

    It bugs me that people are saying the goal kick that should have been a corner led to the goal. That’s completely not true. The goal kick went to a Dutch player almost immediately and the Dutch were on the attack again immediately. It was only after they lost the ball (trying to dive and win a free kick) that Spain began the attack.

    The Dutch were the worst divers of the entire tournament and the most thugish: and this is coming from someone who actually likes the dutch team.

  71. Duh says:

    I give him a B+ for the refereeing. This was always going to be a tough game to control. He showed a bunch of yellows early to deserving recipients to calm things down. If you’re sitting on a yellow it’s going to change the intensity of your play. Kudos to him for keeping it 11 v 11 as long as he could.

  72. Andy says:

    Also keep in mind that FIFA probably spoke to Webb before the game, stressing not to impact the result and to let them play. It’s just like the Superbowl or NBA Finals – the refs are told to let more go so that people can’t say, “they won because the ref made X call.” Under those constraints, how could Webb have done any better? Had he given the deserved reds to Van Bommel and De Jong in the first half, he’d have been lambasted for ruining the spectacle. Instead, he walked a line between too much and too little and I honestly don’t see how he could have done better.

  73. nynow says:

    If you play advantage, you have the right, or rather responsibility, to go back and give the offending party a card. Players like Robben and C Ronaldo who frequently beat defenders off the dribble will always be cursed by the “diver” label because of lose lose situations like this.

    Iniesta, although not alone, was among the worst offenders of the diving and histrionics in the game and I thought it was a shame he got the goal.

  74. nynow says:

    Another point, I love hearing the ESPN announcers, before the game suggest the Dutch should play high pressure and shut down Spain like Paraguay. In the post game? They’re saying it was an ugly display…wait for it…because the Dutch played high pressure and shut down the Spanish passing game. For a 15 minute stretch in the first half, the Spanish team couldn’t get possession of the ball!

    I thought that the turning point of the game was when Kuyt was replaced by Elia (who couldn’t be involved in the possession game or in anything except matching Jesus Navas’ pace). The better move would have been to replace Gio von Bronkhorst, despite him being the captain.

  75. Richard says:

    The DeJong MMA kick was a clear red card. The Van Bommel take-down could have been as well. On the other hand, I thought he bought too many dives and gave out cards for ticky-tack fouls by the Dutch in the second half (not to mention the Puyols grab and wrongly awarded goal kick).

    I’m not sure why Archundia hasn’t gotten the chance to referee a final yet; that guy’s the best ref I’ve seen in soccer.

  76. Aaron says:

    Webb failed to act decisively at the moment of truth. DeJong should have been sent off. Period. His failure to deal w/DeJong communicated to the Netherlands that anything goes, and obviously frustrated Spain.

    There are other things to quibble about, but the bottom-line is that this was the defining play of the match.

  77. Aaron says:

    Sending off DeJong would have changed the game, but he should have sent him off. He earned it. I was okay with leaving Van Bommel on the pitch

  78. PTM9 says:

    It seemed like the Dutch were playing Australian Rules Football. De Jong should have been sent to jail for that tackle, never mind red carded. I counted 2 “last and final warnings” to Sneijder.

    The Dutch and Robben can blame the ref if they want, but they didn’t show up to play. They disgraced themselves and Dutch football.

  79. Webb did pretty well but missed a couple important calls, like the de Jong red card and the Casillias touch on the ball going out right before Spain scored.

    All in all, referees will miss important calls in soccer given the size of the pitch and human limitations.

    That said, this referee kept the match under control with his use of cautions in a game that was a bit too physical.

  80. Rich says:

    And if the Dutch had gotten the corner kick Spain wouldn’t have had the ball to bring down the field for the winning goal. Also, the free kick went off the defender’s arm when it was deflected and could have been called a hand ball. I’m sure the ref didn’t consider it “unintentional” since he didn’t even award Holland the corner it deserved.

  81. Sean says:

    The officiating was pretty bad. That missed corner just minutes from time was atrocious.

    But, worse than the officiating is the diving and the embellishment by Spain. How can anyone really stand up for that? I’m embarrassed and angry when Dempsey does it. Why wouldn’t anyone be angry when an entire team does it?

    There are teams that don’t act that way and I would prefer it if the players acted like real men and tried to stay strong through a foul rather than drop like a ton of bricks and cry like they were shot.

    I can accept going down and preventing yourself from a serious injury. That, I have no issue with. What I take issue with is the fact that these players are acting like they’re stabbed and then, just as quickly as the card is shown or they are across the sidelines, they’re miraculously cured and waving to come back in.

  82. Felix says:

    A few red cards would have been justified in this game considering how physical it was, but at the same time it would have ruined the spectacle of a World Cup Final. In the end, I can’t blame him for the decisions he made, even though, the decisions like not giving Puyol a red card for the challenge on Robben in the second half was huge.

  83. Marcus says:

    I don’t agree on the second one. He places his arm on his shoulder, and takes it off BEFORE Iniesta falls. Also, if he were tugging, wouldn’t that make Iniesta go backwards instead of fall forwards. Granted, he didn’t have a great angle for it, being behind the play and all, but that part is also his job…

  84. Marcus says:

    I don’t agree on the second one. He does place his hand on Iniesta’s shoulder, but it is taken off BEFORE Iniesta goes to the ground. Also, if it was a tug he gave him, wouldn’t that make Iniesta fall backwards, not lunge forwards? Granted, Webb wasn’t in the best position to see it clearly, being behind the play and all.

  85. Mike says:

    It was essentially the same foul by van Bommel on Xavi Alonzo in the 48th minute. Alonzo was in on goal (left side of box) and von Bommel hit him with a shoulder in the back….. no call.

  86. Jamie says:

    Did you spell it wrong on purpose?

  87. Scott A says:

    Webb didn’t do a fabulous job but his name shouldn’t be the predominant theme. The Dutch played like absolute THUGS. It seemed like nothing a referee could do would dissuade them from total anti-football. The term anti-football gets used a lot but it is 100% true in this case. Very disappointed in Holland

  88. I thought he did a very good job. Besides the Bruce Lee antics of DeJong, which deserves a red card PLUS a ban, he made every decision. The Pujol/Robben play was the very definition of advantage. Its not Webb’s fault that Robben couldnt capitalize. However, the next break in play, Pujol should have been booked. These were the only 2 incidents i took issue with. Truth be told, it was amazing he was able to keep all 22 men on the field until it was absolutley necessary for him to send off Heitinga. Cant understand the Dutch argument. You have a clear tactic to kick the living hell out of every Spain player, but complain about the ref calling all these fouls and handing out all these cards. Once Spain could sense what the dutch were doing, they started to flop like fish but only because they knew the Dutch were making easy for them to do so. In reality, if Robben scores none of this would be a talking point. I guess they dont have mirrors in Holland becuase thats where they’d find the reason for the loss. They shouldve took a lesson from the US/Spain game last year. Score first, play hard but not dirty, and show no fear. they were right on the show no fear part but that was it

  89. jjraines says:

    He was the worst by far. Robben actually toned his antics down considerably after the Brazil farce.

  90. bayonetbrant says:

    to those of you who didn’t like Webb, who would you have replaced him with?

  91. Scott says:

    Yes there were missed calls but the Dutch came into the match thinking they were the thugs (as they have in numerous matches lately) which forced the number of yellows that Webb showed…overall I think he called a good match…

  92. pujols says:

    Plus Pujols should have been carded because he’s clearly on PEDs. We’re still talking about baseball, right?

  93. Matt C in Tampa says:

    Agreed that Leg-and-rib-breaker De Jong should have been sent off.

    However, please explain what appears to be an contradictory statement: “He was way too card-happy, and as always, it contributed to the rough, ugly game”.

    It kills me that commentators and fans harp on how the “ref should not determine the game”. They USUALLy can’t win. One group of fans complain he had too much impact be/c he didn’t call it tight enough. The other group complains when he actually follows the rules and hands out cards.

  94. RicardoClark says:

    Scientific studies show that orange jerseys make players insane in tha membrane. Jes sayin’.

  95. Scooter says:

    A difficult game to officiate, I though Webb handled it well. As I see it the football world is divided into two cultures; (a)The Play-on nations (b)The Go-to-ground nations. Both styles of play can produce great play, but only when both teams in a match ascribe to the same culture(I love watching EPL game and I love watching La Liga games… but they are very different games).

    When the two cultures clash in a match it can often be an ugly mess. The Dutch play was overly physical in this match. The avg weigh of Spain’s midfield players was probably only 130-140lbs. Television doesn’t really capture the physical size disparity between the midfields of the two teams. Why is that 130lbs wing players can be stars in La Liga and are physically too small to compete in the EPL? Perhaps becasue styel fo play and officiating is so different between the two leagues.

    FIFA needs to refine the LOTG to better unify the way the game is officiated and played in all countries… until they do we’re going to continue to see games like this. Don’t blame the ref for FIFA’s mess.

  96. Monkey Boy says:

    Webb lost control of the game when he didn’t eject De Jong for the kong fu kick in the first half. From there he was basically saying that he will let things go in order to not eject a player. The play on the field disinitigrated from there, becoming an ugly display from the Dutch.

  97. ThaDeuce says:

    I thought he was the best referee I’ve ever seen. I want him to ref every game of the world cup next year (or at least usa’s). He made no glaring errors, and he kept control of the game as much as possible by giving out the cards. The problem with a final is cards don’t really matter anymore. Not Richard’s fault. Great final, great job, great referee.

  98. Mason says:

    Webb was exactly where he is supposed to be on that play. Where would you want him to be? In the penalty area?

    He got tugged on from behind and it knocked him off balance. His momentum carried him forward. This is basic physics.

  99. Erik_the_Red says:

    I’m afraid Msl has it correct as did Webb. Puyol grabbed at Robben, yes. Now, IF there were a foul committed, then Webb was correct to give Robben advantage. If Webb had blown for the “foul” that you saw and stopped play, Robben and the Dutch would have been irate as Webb may have stopped what was a clear goal scoring opportunity. Once that goal scoring opportunity was missed by Robben, the player asked for the foul. IMO, the only thing that Webb could have done was to issue a warning or a yellow IF there were a yellow card offense. He apparently did not see a foul, therefore, no yellow.

  100. Xander Crews says:

    What I can’t figure out is how NONE of the talking heads pointed this out. That ball was hit not once, but TWICE on its way out of bounds, and he botched it.

  101. Xander Crews says:

    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.

  102. Xander Crews says:

    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.

  103. JoeW says:

    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.

  104. Edward Sasam says:

    Webb did a good job in my own opinion. It was just a very tough game, that’s all. Any other official would have made the same calls he did.