Dutch coach criticises referee Webb

July 12th, 2010

De Jong sees yellow for 'Kung-Fu' tackle

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk criticised English referee Howard Webb after his side were beaten 1-0 by Spain in the World Cup final.

The match was marred by constant foul play which led Webb to book 13 players including the dismissal of Dutchman Johnny Heitinga for two yellow cards.

“I don’t think the referee controlled the match well,” said Van Marwijk.

“Both sides committed fouls. That may be regrettable for a final. But the best team won the match.”

Webb, 38, was booed by the Dutch supporters as he and his assistants went to collect their medals at the end of what was an extremely challenging match for the official, in which he produced a new record number of bookings for a World Cup final and was forced to deal with a series of major incidents.

Nine of the bookings went to players from the Netherlands, who were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men in the first half when midfielder Nigel de Jong landed a boot in the chest of Spanish counterpart Xabi Alonso and in many cases Webb was left with little choice but to caution players for overly-aggressive challenges.

In the book: Full list of cards

With the teams facing a penalty shoot-out as the game was drawing to a close, Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta smashed in a half-volley – which ultimately won the game for Spain – leaving the Dutch incensed after Webb had failed to award their side a corner moments earlier when a Wesley Sneijder free-kick took a deflection off Cesc Fabregas.

Dutch defender Joris Mathijsen was booked for protesting the goal and afterwards goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg continued the condemnation of Webb, saying: “You blame the referee. Everybody outside the stadium can see it was a corner but he didn’t and the assistant also.”

Arjen Robben had missed the Netherlands’ two best chances of the match, which both came from one-on-ones with goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

The second of these produced another contentious incident, when Robben was pulled back by Spain defender Carles Puyol outside the area but stayed on his feet before the ball bobbled to Casillas.

Robben was incensed with Webb for his failure to award a free-kick – which could have earned Puyol a second yellow card – and chased the official, earning himself a booking in the process.

“We made a real game out of it and we had two great chances through Arjen,” explained Van Marwijk.

“I’m not someone to look back on what the referee did. I think the best team usually wins the match.

“But if you look at the second chance of Robben, the referee should give Puyol a second yellow card, which would have meant him being sent off.

“It was a crucial moment just before the end of the 90 minutes. It is very bitter, but that is sport. It is harsh. And as I said, Spain were the better team.”

The Netherlands were extremely physical in their attempts to break up Spain’s passing game – an approach that proved effective for much of the match but which earned them nine yellow cards as a result, including Heitinga’s second.

But the Dutch coach defended his side, saying: “It was still our intention to play beautiful football, but we were facing a very good opponent.

“Spain are the best footballing country in the past few years, so we needed to have a top day to beat them.

“We did a good job tactically on them. We got into good positions at times. It’s not our style, but you play a match to win.

“It’s a World Cup final, and there’s a lot of emotion out there. You saw that with both teams. I would have loved to have won that match, even with not so beautiful football.”

Speaking on BBC Match of the Day, former Liverpool defender Alan Hansen condemned the Dutch approach and defended Webb, who is one of the few full-time referees in world football.

“If the Dutch had triumphed, it would have been bad for the game because there is no place for the way they approached the match,” stated Hansen.

“It’s one thing to have a game plan, be organised and get men behind the ball, but the cynical way in which they operated for the first 45 minutes was a total and utter disgrace.

“Howard Webb tried to make the game flow but on this occasion he was left with no choice.”

Former England manager and BBC 5 Live summariser Graham Taylor was similarly critical of the Dutch, saying: “You have to play within the laws of the game and one has to say that on two or three occasions they didn’t.

“The tackle by De Jong into the chest of Alonso, Howard Webb must have missed that because that is a red card, you don’t tackle people like that.”

Webb was awarded control of the World Cup final – the first Englishman since Jack Taylor in 1974 to be bestowed the honour – following his impressive handling of his three previous games, in which he showed 17 yellow cards.

The Yorkshireman was widely praised for his player-management skills during a tense match in Group F earlier in the competition, which saw Slovakia eliminate 2006 World Cup winners Italy courtesy of a 3-2 victory.

He and his assistants Darren Carr and Mike Mullarkey became the first officials to have refereed a Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year.

Former Dutch international and Manchester United midfielder Jordi Cruyff told BBC 5 Live he was surprised to see Webb given the final.

“I don’t think the referee was up to this kind of game,” said Cruyff. “I’ve seen him in the last few years in the Champions League and I find it unbelievable how he gets the best games.

“I think there is a high standard of refereeing in England so I don’t understand why it is always him.”

Webb has emerged as the Premier League’s top referee following the retirement of Graham Poll, who came in for criticism himself during the 2006 World Cup after he showed three yellow cards to Croatia’s Josep Simunic during their match with Australia.

Despite the criticism of his side’s display, Van Marwijk was quick to heap praise on his players after they reached the third World Cup final in the nation’s history.

“No one expected us to be here, in the final. We even came even very close to a penalty shoot-out. We could even have scored through Robben,” added Van Marwijk.

“Whether we would have deserved that, I don’t know. But it’s a final. It’s very disappointing. You want to win it, and we might have done. I think we performed really, really well to get this far.

“The team that scored the first goal was going to win that match. Those chances for Robben could have meant victory for us. But, unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky.”

World Cup final yellow cards (minute, player, country):

14: Robin van Persie (Netherlands) for late tackle on Joan Capdevila

16: Carles Puyol (Spain) for late tackle on Arjen Robben

21: Mark van Bommel (Netherlands) for late tackle on Andres Iniesta

22: Sergio Ramos (Spain) for foul on Dirk Kuyt

27: Nigel de Jong (Netherlands) for high tackle on Xabi Alonso

53: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands) for professional foul on Sergio Ramos

56: Johnny Heitinga (Netherlands) for unsporting behaviour

66: Joan Capdevila (Spain) for unsporting behaviour

83: Arjen Robben (Netherlands) for protesting a decision

108: Johnny Heitinga (Netherlands) is shown a second yellow and subsequently a red card for pulling back Andrea Iniesta

110: Gregory van der Wiel (Netherlands) for unsporting behaviour

117: Joris Mathijsen (Netherlands) for unsporting behaviour

117: Andres Iniesta (Spain) for removing his shirt

120: Xavi (Spain) for unsporting behaviour

Source: BBC Sport

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