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Page last updated at 20:40 GMT, Tuesday, 13 July 2010 21:40 UK

World Cup 2010: No regrets for Howard Webb after final

Nigel De Jong lunges at Xabi Alonso

De Jong sees yellow for 'Kung-Fu' tackle

English referee Howard Webb has no regrets over his handling of Sunday's World Cup final between eventual winners Spain and the Netherlands.

Webb, 38, was criticised for handing out 14 yellow cards and sending off Dutch defender John Heitinga in a game marred by foul play.

"We felt satisfied we'd done a tough job in difficult circumstances to the best of our abilities," Webb insisted.

"It was an extremely challenging match to handle."

The highly physical approach of the Netherlands players has also attracted criticism following the final but Webb has found himself under particular scrutiny.

Iker Casillas lifts the World Cup for Spain

Highlights - Netherlands 0-1 Spain

Many within the English game have been quick to jump to the Yorkshireman's defence, while Fifa boss Sepp Blatter acknowledged that the players had made life difficult for the officials.

Webb, who arrived home from South Africa on Tuesday, said he had no option but to dish out a record-breaking number of cards.

"Whatever the match, you always hope that the officials won't need to be heavily involved," he said in a statement released through the Premier League.

"However, we had to raise our profile in order to keep control. We don't feel that we had much choice except to manage the game in the way we did.

"From early on in the match we had to make decisions that were clear yellow cards.

"We tried to apply some common sense officiating given the magnitude of the occasion for both sides - advising players early on for some of their tackling, sending players away when they were surrounding the officials, and speaking to their senior colleagues to try to calm them down.

"It is one of the toughest games we will ever be involved in and we feel that we worked hard to keep the focus on the football as much as possible."

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk was unhappy with Webb's performance after seeing his side lose to Andres Iniesta's late strike in extra-time at Soccer City in Johannesburg, claiming the referee did not control the match well.

Nine of Webb's bookings went to Dutch players, with midfielder Nigel de Jong lucky to avoid a red card in the first half after planting a boot in the chest of Xabi Alonso.

Netherlands' John Heitinga

Heitinga sent off in World Cup final

Mike Riley, the head of the Premier League's refereeing association the Professional Game Match Officials board (PGMO), said Webb had performed well under trying circumstances.

"The final was without doubt one of the most difficult games Howard will have ever refereed," said Riley.

"On far too many occasions during the match the players showed little respect for the laws of the game and showed scant regard for the spirit of the game.

"In spite of these challenges, Howard and his team performed superbly, showing great resolve and courage in dealing with the many incidents in the game."

Jonathan Hall, the FA's director on the PGMO, added: "Nothing should take away from Howard's achievement and it is hard to imagine many other officials being able to match his performance or handle such a fixture so well.

"We are all thoroughly proud of the fact Fifa chose to recognise Howard at the very peak of his profession."

Webb became the fourth Englishman to take charge of the crowning game in world football following Jack Taylor (1974), Bill Ling (1954) and George Reader (1950).

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see also
Alonso critical of De Jong tackle
13 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Sunderland manager Bruce praises referee Webb
12 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb had very hard task - Blatter
12 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb's final refereeing backed
14 Jul 10 |  People & Places
Dutch coach condemns referee Webb
12 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Sunday's World Cup round-up
11 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Fifa to make refereeing changes
08 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb to referee World Cup final
09 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Fifa evades technology questions
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Fifa offers no comment on ref blunders
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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