Blatter joins in defense of World Cup ref

July 12, 2010 at 8:29 PM
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, July 12 (UPI) -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter and others Monday defended soccer referee Howard Webb, who was harshly criticized for his performance in Sunday's World Cup final.

Spain defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in a rugged match during which Webb issued 14 yellow cards for rough play -- most of them to the Netherlands. Dutch players claimed Webb favored Spain, especially on a play in which Spain's Carles Puyol impeded winger Arjen Robben.

Others blasted Webb for not issuing red cards to Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel of the Netherlands, The Scotsman reported.

"The final was not exactly what I expected in terms of fair play," Blatter told reporters. "It's not up to me judge the performances of the officials, I can only say it was a very hard task that the referee trio had on the field of play."

Also defending Webb was former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher, who told Sky Sports News, "I've never seen a referee put under so much pressure, I've never seen a team employ so much bully-boy tactics and the way they harangued him at the end was absolutely disgraceful."

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