Netherlands winger Arjen Robben has joined his coach and team-mates in criticising World Cup final referee Howard Webb, saying he is not world-class and that he should have sent off Spain defender Carles Puyol for a foul on him.
Webb has come under fire from Netherlands players and coach Bert van Marwijk for issuing nine yellow cards to their team, two of which went to defender Johnny Heitinga, seeing him sent off in extra time. But the reaction outside the Dutch camp has generally supported Webb, with many taking the view the physical Dutch approach gave the English official little choice in his decisions.
But a contentious moment arrived late in the second half of normal time when Robben outpaced Puyol to get a clear run on goal, but the Barcelona defender pushed the laws of the game to the edge with his spoiling body check, forcing Robben into a heavy touch that allowed goalkeeper Iker Casillas to collect the ball at his feet just inside the box.
Robben said Webb had given advantage for what he believed was a certain foul and what would have been a second yellow card for Puyol, if not a straight red since he was the last man.
"When I got my second chance, the referee should have given us a free kick and Puyol a yellow card," Robben said. "He gave the advantage, but there was none as I could hardly move and the goalkeeper was too close already. As a player, you always want to go on and especially ten 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."
Robben admitted an earlier missed chance, when Wesley Sniejder put him through one on one with Casillas only to see the Real Madrid keeper save his low finish with an outstretched foot, was a moment he would regret.
"When I missed my first chance it was simply my error. I was not patient enough and should have gone around him instead of a poor finish."