Leading article: No thanks

Tuesday 13 July 2010 00:00

Howard Webb's wife, Kay, still has "every confidence" in her husband. Thank goodness for that because football referees must sometimes wonder if they can do right in anyone's eyes, even their own wives.

On the field of play these men with whistles and cards are expected to combine the omniscience of God with the judgement of Solomon and the patience of a saint. They need to see every incident with perfect clarity, even if it is behind their back. They need to get every decision exactly right. And no matter how much they are yelled at by players, managers and coaching staff, they need to keep their composure.

And then there's the geopolitics with which they must grapple. In World Cups, every decision can decide the fate of nations. No matter what they do, they risk making an enemy of entire populations. And, of course, referees must never expect any thanks. Even though their team won, the Spanish press were almost as angry about Mr Webb's performance on Sunday night as the vanquished Dutch.

Referees might not, contrary to popular opinion, be blind. But they certainly need their heads examined for wanting to take on such a thankless job.

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