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Page last updated at 11:10 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 12:10 UK

World Cup 2010: Englishman Howard Webb to referee final

Howard Webb

Webb prepares for highs of South Africa

Premier League official Howard Webb has been chosen to referee Sunday's World Cup final between Netherlands and Spain in Johannesburg, Fifa has confirmed.

Webb, 38, has impressed in the finals so far, as have his fellow English assistants Michael Mullarkey and Darren Cann, who will join him in the final.

Webb is the first Englishman to referee the final since Jack Taylor in 1974.

He has refereed three World Cup matches in South Africa and has neither shown a red card nor awarded a penalty.

However, the Yorkshireman has handed out an average of 5.67 bookings per games - the second highest tally in tournament.

Webb made his World Cup finals debut in Spain's shock 1-0 defeat by Switzerland.

Lady of the Bridge

He was also in charge for Slovakia's 3-2 victory against Italy - a defeat which cost the defending champions the chance to reach the tournament's knockout rounds - and was praised for his handling of a dramatic finale to the match.

In the last-16 stage Webb refereed Brazil's 3-0 win over Chile, only to miss out on the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

But he has been rewarded with Sunday's Soccer City showpiece, prompting high praise from Taylor, referee for the 1974 World Cup final between the former West Germany and Netherlands, who said Webb had been "almost perfect" in the three games in which he has officiated to date.

"I've known Howard for a long time," Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live. "I've seen him as a young referee and I've seen him come through, I've seen his ability.

"He's had three games and he's been almost perfect.

"He's fit, he's strong, he's diplomatic, he reads the game terribly well, in my opinion they couldn't pick a better man."

It is great to see Howard and his team's fantastic season topped off with the ultimate appointment

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore

Premier League referee Chris Foy backed Webb to perform in the final and said the British refereeing fraternity were proud of their colleague.

"I'm absolutely delighted and I'm not surprised because the way he has performed at the World Cup up till now I think he's been outstanding," Foy told BBC Radio Merseyside.

"It's a massive pat on the back for English refereeing.

"He refereed the Champions League final this season and did a wonderful job and this is the biggest accolade that can ever be bestowed on a match official and he must be immensely proud."

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore also paid tribute to Webb and his team, adding: "We see the hard work and professionalism of Howard Webb, Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey week in, week out when they are officiating in the Premier League.

"So, it is great to see their fantastic season topped off with the ultimate appointment."

For Webb to be chosen to officiate the biggest game in football in his first World Cup finals is a superb achievement.

It comes after a highly successful season for him and his assistants Cann and Mullarkey, after they officiated the Champions League final in May when Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2-0 in Madrid.

Their performances have boosted English officials' standing around the world after the debacle in the 2006 World Cup when referee Graham Poll handed out three yellow cards to Croatia's Josip Simunic during the match with Australia.

Premier League referees' chief Mike Riley has said those experiences mean all three men will be more than prepared for such a high-profile match.

The whole thing is jaw-dropping. I just can't imagine my son reffing the World Cup Final

Howard's father Billy

"As a team they will be prepared for the challenges and I'm sure they will be more than looking forward to the occasion," Riley told the BBC.

Webb, a former police officer from Rotherham, started officiating in the Northern Counties League in the mid-1990s.

He has been a Premier League referee since 2003 and took charge of the 2007 Carling Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea - won by the Blues 2-1 - and the 2009 FA Cup final, also won 2-1 by the men from Stamford Bridge, that time against Everton.

His father, however, revealed he encouraged his son to give up officiating after watching him take charge of his first match.

Billy Webb, a former miner who refereed for 35 years, told GMTV: "It's in my blood. I encouraged my son to take it up.

"I encouraged him to take his first game and then when I watched his first game, I encouraged him to pack up.

"My brother was with me at the time, he was a referee, and he said 'I can see summat in this young lad'. History has proven him right and me wrong.

"The whole thing is jaw-dropping. I just can't imagine my son reffing the World Cup Final."

Meanwhile, one of Webb's assistants, Mullarkey, recently revealed how Fifa training sessions had included preparation for the noise of the vuvuzelas in South Africa.

Mullarkey stated: "When we're doing our training exercises Fifa is actually playing recorded sounds of vuvuzelas through the speakers.

"For three hours a day we're exposed to that sound which helps preparation."

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see also
Referee great Taylor praises Webb
10 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Fifa to make refereeing changes
08 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb overlooked for semi-finals
06 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb misses out on quarter-finals
01 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Refs trained to ignore vuvuzelas
22 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb prepares for highs of South Africa
19 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup 2010 performance analysis
07 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Webb given Champions League final
20 May 10 |  Europe
Referee Webb chosen for World Cup
05 Feb 10 |  Football
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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