The former police officer from Rotherham, Howard Webb, has been one of 10 referees detained in South Africa by FIFA, so they can decide which officiating team will be part of the World Cup final. Webb and his two officials, Darren Cann and Michael Mullarkey, have been kept in South Africa and are awaiting FIFA’s decision. Two of Webb’s main rivals for the final, Uzbekistan’s Ravshan Irmatov and Hungary’s Viktor Kassai, will officiate the semi-finals between Uruguay vs Holland and Spain vs Germany. This gives Webb a distinct advantage, as refereeing a semi-final genuinely means that the referees in question would miss out on final consideration.
Webb and his colleagues haven’t put a foot wrong in the tournament so far. His assistant Darren Cann correctly ruled out a Fabio Quagliarella goal vs Slovakia in the group stages and his other assistant Michael Mullarkey was praised for allowing Luis Fabiano’s goal against Chile in the second round to stand. Webb, himself, has been authoritative and dominant in the ties he has officiated and has proven why he is England’s number one referee and why he is given the big fixtures in the Premier League.
Ominous signs for Webb are the fact that three European teams are in the final four and FIFA may tip for a South American referee, should Uruguay miss out on the final. If Uruguay get to the final, Webb is automatically ruled out, because of the Frank Lampard goal against Germany being disallowed by a Uruguayan line official. Webb, and the whole of his hometown of Rotherham, will be praying for a Holland triumph, so that Howard Webb’s chance is still alive.
Personally, I think that Webb would make a great final referee. He is strong and well-built to pose an intimidating figure to the players. He allows the game to flow freely, but spots fouls quickly and deals with them professionally and concisely. Webb refereed the Champions League final 2010 between Inter Milan and Bayern Munich and dealt with that perfectly well, so why shouldn’t he deal with the World Cup final? Only FIFA will know if Webb will represent England in the final and be the first Englishman since Jack Taylor in 1974 to officiate a World Cup final. Good luck Howard, I’m sure you’ll do a stellar job and let’s put English officiating back on the world map.