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Referee debate

Blatter laments Webb's "hard task"

July 12, 2010
By Soccernet staff

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said much-criticised World Cup final referee Howard Webb had a "very hard task" in Sunday's bad-tempered clash between Spain and Netherland's that saw a record 14 yellow cards shown.

Howard Webb
GettyImagesHoward Webb: World Cup final referee

• FIFA: Referees 96% correct

In a record for a final, Webb booked 13 different players - John Heitinga was shown two yellows followed by a red - in a fiery encounter that saw Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal secure a 1-0 win for Spain.

Webb was lambasted in both the Spanish and Dutch press for either being too lenient or too severe.

Blatter said: "The final was not exactly what I expected in terms of fair play. It's not up to me judge the performances of the officials, I can only say it was a very hard task that the referee trio had on the field of play. It was not easy, really not easy and they were really not helped in this task I can say."

Blatter refused to comment on the brutal approach by Netherlands, who eventually lost 1-0 in extra time.

He told a news conference in Johannesburg: "Even though I have seen all the irregularities as a spectator, I cannot answer this question as president of FIFA. I could answer it as a fan of football but I am here as president.

"I will not make any comment but we always say football is school of life because it is based on discipline and respect. It's a combat game but in the spirit of fair play.

"You have to learn to win and you have to learn to lose, and should not forget the basis which is discipline and respect."

Blatter was asked whether Webb should have shown a red card to Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong, and replied: "In football we have to live with the errors of players, and of referees. I don't think perfection exists in this world."