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Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Wednesday, 25 August 2010 17:05 UK

I should have sent off Nigel de Jong, says Howard Webb


Ref Webb proud of World Cup performance

Referee Howard Webb has admitted he should have sent off midfielder Nigel de Jong in the World Cup final.

The Dutchman received a yellow card for his 'kung fu' kick on Spain's Xabi Alonso during the match in Johannesburg last month which the Spanish won 1-0.

Webb, who handed out 14 yellow and one red card during the final, said: "Having watched the game back, there's not a great deal I'd change.

"But I would change the colour of the card for De Jong's tackle."

Webb, 39, who was joined by assistant referee and fellow Englishmen Michael Mullarkey and Darren Cann for the final in the Soccer City stadium on 11 July, admitted: "It was a great honour to be appointed for that game - the pinnacle of our careers as well as the players - and one that we're very proud of.

"It was quite a memorable night for many reasons and one that will live in our memories forever.

"It was a challenging game, for sure. Being the World Cup final brings its own pressures because it's a hugely-watched event. I was told something like a third of the world's population were watching that game.

"With that comes some pressures but you're there to do a job and once you blow that first whistle you get on with it."

Webb's performance came under criticism from both the Spanish and the Dutch and the Rotherham official conceded that while he was happy with his general display, the De Jong decision was one he got wrong.

"Having seen it again from my armchair several times in slow motion and from different angles I can see that it was a red-card offence," commented Webb.

"The decision not to red card him was not based on me not wanting to send someone off in the World Cup final, it was based on the viewing angle I had got.

"What I couldn't see was the actual contact on Alonso through his back, with [Mark] Van Bommel just to his right, the view was obstructed somewhat.

"I could see the foot was high and from Alonso's reaction there must have been some contact even though I couldn't see the contact, and being 25 minutes into a World Cup final I wasn't prepared to guess.

"I wasn't prepared to fill in the blanks in my head to say that was possibly a red-card offence, I wanted to base it on what we could see so therefore I decided to show a yellow card."

Howard Webb and Robin van Persie
Webb shows the first of the final's yellow cards to Robin van Persie

Webb said he had been hoping for a "smooth game" and regretted having to show so many cards but felt he had no choice.

"We certainly came off that field feeling we'd done the best job we could in difficult circumstances - to try to bring a sensible approach to the game and try to keep a focus on the football where we could and understand the size of the occasion," he explained.

"As a referee you develop a thick skin and you understand that sometimes what you do is not always well received by one party or another.

"But you have to be true to yourself and do the job to the best of your ability and whilst I do care what people feel, I'm more bothered about the way I feel about the way I've handled things.

"The support we've had from the British people and the media has been overwhelming and we've had some good messages of support from abroad as well.

"Those involved in the refereeing department of Fifa were extremely supportive and understood the type of game that we were presented with. It wasn't what we expected but it's what we had to deal with."

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see also
Ref Webb defends display in final
13 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Spain & Netherlands fined by Fifa
03 Aug 10 |  Football
Dutch coach condemns referee Webb
12 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb had very hard task - Blatter
12 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010

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