Thursday 26 August 2010

World Cup Final 2010: Webb’s Reflection

It’s taken about six weeks for Howard Webb to begin publicly discussing his thoughts about his performance in the World Cup Final (see full article here).

[Webb limbering up with his assistants Cann(L) and Mullarkey. Is the 4th Official doing something else? Pic courtesy Action Images]

On the Nigel de Jong incident on Xabi Alonso, Webb said this:
"Having seen it again from my armchair, I would red-card him. The trouble in the actual game was that I had a poor view of that particular incident. I was looking through the back of Alonso and though I could see the foot was high, I could not be certain of the extent of the contact. It wasn't that I didn't want to send anyone off because it was a World Cup final, though I was mindful of the fact that the game was the pinnacle of the players' careers as well as of mine. I just wasn't prepared to take a guess 25 minutes into the game."

This is a revealing insight since previously it was not known whether:
1) Webb actually saw the incident,
2) his nearside AR Darren Cann saw and gave advice, and
3) his 4th Official Yuichi Nishimura saw and gave advice.

From Webb’s comments, it appears that the most important thing for him is that he himself had to have seen the incident. His excuse is that he did not want to guess in the 25th minute of the match. It also appears that Webb did not or could not take advice from his AR or 4th Official.

Let’s put this into some context and reference this to a related incident involving teamwork and a send-off incident [Teamwork is important for match officials]. In that 2009 incident, when Webb missed a crucial incident he took advice from another match official (it is not known whether it was his AR or 4th Official). However, with the introduction of new responsibilities to the 4th Official in time for the 2010 World Cup, the 4th Official may (like the ARs) advise the referee on incidents that he believes the referee has missed. So in 2009, instead of guessing, Webb took advice from his assistant (allegedly his AR) by sending off Egypt's Ahmed El Mohamady for handling the ball on the line and awarding a match-winning penalty to Brazil. Therefore, is Howard Webb being consistent? Is he being clear about what information he received, if any, from his assistants?

Furthermore, HKRef has previously speculated that there might have been cultural and language communication problems between Webb and the 4th Official from Japan. Nishimura has to understand Webb’s Yorkshire accent and Webb has to understand Nishimura’s English through their two-way earpieces. Was Nishimura really a part of Webb’s team? [World Cup Final 2010: Mixed Signals and Expected Teamwork]

Howard Webb also briefly mentioned his preparation for the biggest match of his refereeing career. He is quoted:
"On the day of the final we had several briefings from Fifa technical and psychological staff, and I don't think anyone foresaw the game being the physical encounter it turned out to be. We talked about the emotion, the styles of play, but no one said anything about it being so physical. Yet within 20 minutes we knew how it was going to turn out. I knew quite a lot of the players from the Premier League, the Champions League and from refereeing the national teams, and all I can say is that the emotions in that World Cup final were quite raw. The Dutch were devastated, disappointed and in some cases angry, but there was nothing about being familiar with the players involved that would have helped."

Question: Was Webb not aware of Mark van Bommel’s typical style of play?

With more revelations about Webb’s preparations, it is hoped that we can all learn from Webb’s experiences and improve our all-round officiating skills.

Note: Here's a BBC interview with Howard Webb.

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