English referee Howard Webb says he is satisfied with his handling of the World Cup final, despite criticism from Netherlands players after their 1-0 defeat by Spain.
Netherlands players criticized Webb’s performance in Sunday’s match at Soccer City in Johannesburg, complaining about a series of decisions during an ill-tempered game that was decided by Andrés Iniesta’s extra-time winner.
In a statement released by the Premier League on Tuesday, Webb said that he and his linesmen did a tough job as well as they could in what were demanding conditions, calling it “an extremely challenging match” and one of the hardest matches he will ever have to handle.
“We don’t feel that we had much choice except to manage the game in the way we did,” Webb said. “We came away feeling satisfied that we’d done a tough job in difficult circumstances to the best of our abilities.”
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“From early on in the match we had to make decisions that were clear yellow cards. We tried to apply some common sense officiating given the magnitude of the occasion for both sides – advising players early on for some of their tackling, sending players away when they were surrounding the officials, and speaking to their senior colleagues to try and calm them down.”
Webb booked 13 different players and sent off John Heitinga after showing the Dutch defender a second yellow card in extra time.
“It was an extremely challenging match to handle, but it would have been so for any referee,” he said. “It is one of the toughest games we will ever be involved in and we feel that we worked hard to keep the focus on the football as much as possible.”
DUTCH HONOR TEAM
Hundreds of thousands of fans lined Amsterdam’s web of canals to cheer the runner-up Netherlands as the team cruised the waterways, swigging beer and blowing vuvuzelas, in an open-top boat on Tuesday.
Players drank beer and waved at fans as orange streamers, fired from cannons along the canal, drifted over them.
Midfielder Rafael van der Vaart sprayed fans with beer, while defender Edson Braafheid caught a bottle of beer tossed to him by a fan and started drinking from it. Players had to regularly duck as their boat cruised under low bridges.
“I expected some people to come, but this is unbelievable,” coach Bert van Marwijk said. “Can you imagine what it would have been like if we’d won?”
Scores of small boats, most of them pumping out loud music and packed with dancing revelers, followed the official flotilla.
In front of about 100,000 fans at the central Museum Square, winger Arjen Robben said: “Spain may have won the World Cup, but we have the best supporters in the world.”
DECKED, THEN FINED
The Spanish man who ran onto the field at the World Cup final and tried to place a hat on top of the trophy has been fined $260 by a South African court.
Jaume Marquet Cot, 34, aka “Jimmy Jump,” was floored by a punch from a security official just before he could get to the trophy.