Look beyond the Spanish celebrations, after winning Sunday’s World Cup against the Netherlands, and the big story was the number of yellow cards English referee Howard Webb showed, during the match – 14 in all.
Reading the various Dutch haranguing of Howard Webb made me feel incredibly protective towards him.
And it instantly reminded me of the criticism that English fans have heaped upon other refs after decisions went against them.
Remember Kim Milton Nielsen, who infamously sent off David Beckham during the 1998 World Cup Finals, or Urs Meier who disallowed an injury-time Sol Campbell goal during Euro 2004?
I wonder if the Danes or the Swiss felt similarly protective towards Nielsen or Meier, after they received daeth threats.
Most of the time when this sort of reaction occurs, it’s because the team in question knows they either weren’t up to the job, or had many more opportunities to win a game and failed.
In the Netherlands’ case, they got their tactics completely wrong by refusing to play pretty football and committing foul after foul.
That Webb managed to get through to extra time before sending anyone off is a miracle in itself and he should be applauded for keeping all 22 players on for as long as he did, in an effort to ensure the match remained competitive.