English World Cup final referee gets support - from wife

The wife of English referee Howard Webb said she had “every confidence” in her husband after he set a new World Cup final record by handing out 14 yellow cards and one red as Spain clinched their first victory in the global showpiece.

The wife of English referee Howard Webb said she had “every confidence” in her husband after he set a new World Cup final record by handing out 14 yellow cards and one red as Spain clinched their first victory in the global showpiece.

Kay Webb, who was unable to watch much of the game because she was too nervous, told GMTV she thought the 38-year-old Yorkshireman was “brilliant”.

“I have every confidence in him,” she said.

The former police sergeant was kept on his toes at Soccer City, issuing nine yellow cards to the Dutch – including the two that saw Everton’s John Heitinga sent off – and five to Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta scored four minutes from the end of extra-time to secure a 1-0 win, sparking wild scenes of celebration in Johannesburg and across Spain.

There was heartbreak for Holland, who have now lost in all three of their World Cup final appearances.

Webb was the first Englishman to referee a World Cup final since Jack Taylor in 1974, and was watched by an estimated TV audience of 750 million.

He faced angry remonstrations from the Dutch after last night’s match as they felt he should have sent off Spain defender Carles Puyol for a tackle on Arjen Robben when the winger was through on goal, and that he had incorrectly failed to award them a corner moments before the winning goal when a free-kick took a deflection off Cesc Fabregas.

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk said: “I don’t think the referee controlled the match well.”

A succession of late and aggressive challenges from Van Marwijk’s side had kept Webb busy throughout the first half as he cautioned five players, including Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong for an ugly chest-high challenge on Xabi Alonso.

He issued four more yellow cards in the second half – three to Holland – as the tension grew.

Extra-time brought a further five yellow cards and a red as Webb sent Dutch defender Heitinga off shortly before Iniesta’s winner.

Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson, co-commentating on the match for the BBC, said: “You might argue it was the most difficult match he has ever had to referee.”

Webb’s assistants in Johannesburg were Darren Cann, from Poringland, Norfolk, and Michael Mullarkey, from Exeter.

The English trio became the first to have officiated at a Champions League final and World Cup final in the same year.

Webb, who took a five-year career break from South Yorkshire Police in 2008 to concentrate on refereeing, took charge of three other matches in the tournament - Spain v Switzerland, Brazil v Chile and Slovakia v Italy.

He started refereeing at the age of 19.

In 2000, at 29, he was included on the National List of Football League referees and three years later he was selected as a Premier League referee. In 2005, aged 34, he received his FIFA badge.

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