Webb admits De Jong mistake

Referee Howard Webb has admitted he should have shown Holland's Nigel de Jong a red card in the World Cup final for the Manchester City player's x-rated challenge on Xabi Alonso.

Webb handed out a record 14 yellow cards - two leading to a red - but the Yorkshire official accepts he should have sent off De Jong for his kung fu-style kick on Spain's former Liverpool player in the 25th minute.

Webb, who is back in training with his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey ahead of a return to Premier League refereeing next month, said the final was much more physical than he had anticipated and that his view of the De Jong challenge was partially obstructed.

In his first interview since the final, Webb told Press Association Sport: "I sensed very early on the field the players were under a lot of pressure, they were very close to winning the ultimate prize for their country for the first time.

"We wanted to be that steadying hand but equally we wanted to do our job properly and if there was a clear red card we would do it.

"When I look back on the full two hours of that game, which of course I have done, there is not much I would change.

"One of the things I would change is the colour of the card for De Jong's tackle.

"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."

Webb, from Rotherham, insists however the decision had nothing to do with a reluctance to issue a red card on such a big occasion.

He added: "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.

"That's one of things I would change, the other thing was a corner kick/goal-kick late on when it did deflect off (Cesc) Fabregas but I didn't get the angle to see it."

Webb said he, Cann and Mullarkey had been overwhelmed by the support they had received after the final - although there was some criticism from the Dutch.

He said: "I look back on it as an amazing and memorable experience.

"We certainly came home on July 12 very satisfied and proud of what we had achieved down there.

"It was a extremely challenging game, we had to show lots of cards, it wasn't what we hoped for and that was a disappointment for us and made it very challenging for us.

"It was played in a much more physical way than we had expected.

"Our mood was boosted by the support we had from all over the world from referees, the media, the public, we felt we did a good job in those difficult circumstances.

"The FIFA president made some comments supportive of us and saying how difficult the game was."

Webb admitted his life and those of Cann and Mullarkey had been "massively changed" since the final in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium.

"The Premier League is big as is the Champions League but the World Cup has taken it to a different level," said Webb.

"Even on holiday in Turkey people - British and locals - were stopping me in the street but every time they were positive and supportive.

"I hope we have enhanced the reputation of English officials."

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