Following Sunday’s controversial World Cup Final, demoralised Dutch duo Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder have lambasted Howard Webb for his refereeing display. The fiery encounter, which was settled by Andres Iniesta’s extra-time winner, saw Webb hand out 14 yellow cards and one red.
‘He has robbed us,’ said Sneijder, whose five goals had lead Holland to the final.
‘This really is a disgrace to football. It really shouldn’t have happened.
First I shot a free kick that hit the wall and then the Spanish keeper touched it before going behind. What does the referee do? The whistle was not for a corner.’
‘In the following attack, Iniesta is at first offside. Webb doesn’t whistle and then Iniesta gets the ball and scores.
‘And earlier there was a moment with Iniesta, he kicked Van Bommel when the ball was not there. The fourth official saw the moment and he said, “Yeah, I saw it”. I think if you saw it’s a red card.’
‘That’s three incidents in a short space of time. It is a scandal it has to end this way.
‘I won three titles (this season) and now I lost tonight the fourth title. ‘It’s a pity but I think we can be proud of it, the whole country.’
Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was critical of Webb’s decision to refrain from handing out a second yellow card to match-winner Iniesta.
‘What was this man doing,’ said the striker of Webb.
‘He made three big errors in extra time of a World Cup final. Believe me, this really hurts.
‘Even after Heitinga’s red card I still felt we could be world champions. With penalty kicks we’d at least have a 50 per cent chance.
‘He whistled four minutes from time, but not for a corner, and later overlooks Iniesta being in an offside position.
‘Iniesta should not have been on the pitch because he kicked Van Bommel. He also should have shown Puyol a second yellow card for trying to knock down Robben.
‘I don’t say it’s only down to the referee. We missed a very good chance. But the referee has been decisive.
‘Perhaps it was because Spain were wronged in a group match against Switzerland? Let me say nothing. ‘ (Daily Mail)
Given the magnitude of the World Cup Final, it is unsurprising to see that such comments have emerged from the Dutch camp. Although criticism of officials is a common and unfortunate by-product of the game, it is rather sad to see the likes of Van Persie and Sneijder making such comments. Both players are undeniably world-class players, and neither should have to point to the perceived failings of Howard Webb as the primary reason for their failure to perform in the World Cup Final. Sneijder failed to scale the heady heights of earlier World Cup outings, and Van Persie continued his dismal showing in South Africa, failing to offer any substantial threat in front of goal.
Whilst the aforementioned pair have cited incidents of Webb failing to penalise Spain, both Van Persie and Sneijder have unsurprisingly neglected to mention the instances of Howard Webb failing to adequately punish both Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel for dangerous tackles in the first half of the match. Had both tackles been greeted with red cards, the Netherlands would have been forced to play for most of the game with nine men, and would almost certainly have failed to take the game into extra-time. In this regard, the Dutch can consider themselves lucky to have benefitted from Webb’s lenient approach.
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