Connect with us


Howard Webb In The Eye Of The Storm At Confederations Cup


The life of a top level referee is a tough one. Before the age of blanket coverage of the beautiful game referees could go about their job and to a certain extent slip into the background when the work was done. Such an existence is no longer possible as a bad day at the office now sparks irate calls to football phone-in shows, frame by agonising frame replays of incidents, oh, and death threats have become another occupational hazard.

One man in black who has had an eventful season is Premier League referee Howard Webb. Webb has emerged in recent years as one of the up and coming whistlers in the world game. He has been entrusted with many important Premiership games, Champions League occasions and looked a safe bet to officiate at next year’s World Cup in South Africa.

That status now looks in danger as he has become embroiled in controversy following the award of a last minute penalty to Brazil in their Confederations Cup match with Egypt. Egypt have lodged an appeal against Webb’s decision to award a penalty for handball and send off defender Ahmed El Mohamady. The complaint hinges on the belief that Webb, who initally gave a corner, was swayed by his fourth official who consulted a television replay.

Speaking to the BBC, Egyptian assistant coach Gharib Chawki said: “We’re not contesting the referee’s decision but the way it was made. Or maybe the rules have changed and nobody has told us. The decision has been made after a statement by the fourth official, after watching the monitor, that it should be a penalty.”

This furore was the last thing Webb would have wanted at the end of a season where a number of his decisions have drawn the ire of managers and fans alike. Webb was the man in the middle for the Barcelona-Bayern Munich Champions League tie where, instead of giving a penalty to the home side, he booked Leo Messi for diving. It was a very poor decision that left Pep Guardiola resembling Ian Curtis from Joy Division on the sideline, a performance that landed the young coach a touchline ban.  

Tottenham fans will also remember the penalty he gave at Old Trafford when he adjudged Michael Carrick had been dragged down by Heurelho Gomes in the penalty area. To his credit Mr Webb admitted his mistake in this instance but we tend to remember such high profile mistakes and Harry Redknapp’s post match comments were not of the forgiving nature.

Referees are human, they make mistakes and Howard Webb has made a few this season, but there is no doubt he is one of the better referees around. I am sure any referee will take criticism on the chin for an error of judgement or a rash card but to be castigated for making the right decision seems unfair and highlights the ridiculous nature of FIFA’s refusal to use technological aids in football. Nobody wants to see the flow of the game constantly interrupted but surely there is room for a compromise that would rule out problems like yesterday. 

FIFA plan to introduce additional officials behind the posts to assist the referee at a number of levels next season but there is no inclination at this point toward using television replays. The issue gets brought up regularly during the course of a season but FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s language on the subject leaves little room for interpretation.

Perhaps this incident, whereby the correct decision was made, may convince football’s regulators of the benefit of technology. Unfortunately for Howard Webb, he may be made the scapegoat for a quite embarassing scenario.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $69.99/mo. for Entertainment package
  • Watch World Cup, Euro 2024 & MLS
  • Includes ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 + local channels
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more


  1. Rory

    June 19, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Interesting aticle today in the London Times by Gabrielle Marcotti covering this issue. How is Sepp Blatter the guardian of worldwide football? The mind boggles!

  2. Connie

    June 17, 2009 at 9:56 am

    I wonder if those claiming Egypt were cheated have watch the incident ! Ironically, if the Egypt defender had not feigned injury to his head the corner could have been taken quickly and he might have got away with such a blatant hand ball.

    That feiging of injury was the only cheating going on.

  3. Shakira

    June 16, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Nice to see FIFA covering its own butt again, Egypt deserved a draw, got screwed because they were playing Brazil and Webb showed once again why he is a crap ref. No little team is going to get the calls against a Brazil, Italy ect sadly.

  4. Ryan

    June 16, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    I think some of you may be confusing tv monitor with the big screen tv (here in America I have always heard it called a jumbotron, I don’t know what it is called in SA.) But anyways, I assume there are big replay screens in the corners of the stadium, and it would have been easy for a 4th official to catch the replay of it. No need to duck inside and find an actual tv.

  5. cy

    June 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    The reason it took so long for Webb to show the card is he had to wait for the Egyptian to stand up from his “injury”. Refs never show a card to a guy whos on the ground.

  6. Jose

    June 16, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    FIFA is trying their best to have a Brazil v. Italy final.

  7. AtlantaPompey

    June 16, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    FIFA are protecting their referees and Brazil. The correct call was made, but it’s certainly possible that the tv monitor was consulted, which would make it inadmissable. This does prove that instant replay does not have to take forever. It can happen quickly and the game can continue. It should happen before next summer.

    • Rory

      June 16, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      It seems to me that teamwork between the referee and assistant is a much more preferable outcome for FIFA than the admission that a TV monitor was used and the correct decision was made….
      Perhaps a cynical take but it does seem the most convenient conclusion for FIFA doesn’t it?

  8. Rory

    June 16, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Impeccable timing as usual from myself!
    UPDATE: FIFA have rejected the appeal stating that the decision was made due to teamwork between Webb and his linesman who had a clear view of the incident.

  9. cy

    June 16, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    For the record, the 4th official would never of had a chance to look at the TV monitor, as he was up near the touch line. The 5th official would have though.

  10. Morgan

    June 16, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    Hopefully FIFA will get off its ass and change the rule before South Africa 2010. Instant replay would be best. A ref behind the goal would not have been able to make this call. Anyhow, it was a clear penalty. Justice served.

  11. mamdouh assaad

    June 16, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I beleave the defender used his hand but if the referee had consulted with the side line and he made a decision for a corner, also that FIFA
    is not considering TV replay, he should not award a penalty kick.
    How many times ball hits post ,goes inside and comes out and was not
    awarded because FIFA do not use replay.
    I have said after a replay it was a hand ball but we must adhere to the
    law. Egypt deserve a win yesterday or al least a draw. He stole it and gave it to Brazil which was not fair based on FIFA’s rules

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in General

Translate »