PRETORIA - English referee Howard Webb is
used to the ups and downs of taking charge of high-profile games
but even the confident Yorkshireman seemed a little surprised
with the mass media attention ahead of Sunday's World Cup final.
Webb and his two English assistants will be in charge of
Sunday's final between Spain and the Netherlands at Soccer City
in Johannesburg and their training session, normally an
anonymous event away from the media, on Saturday drew television
cameras and reporters from all over the world.
GEAR: Get a World Cup final shirt
The English trio had a gentle half-hour session before
taking their seats at a table on the field for an open-air press
conference - something that would be unthinkable ahead of a
regular league game where referees are rarely allowed to talk to
"We have become somewhat accustomed to this, it is not the
first thing that we are trained to deal with, we are more
comfortable on the field of play doing our job but it is
something that we know is part and parcel of the wonderful
appointment we received," he said.
The 38-year-old Webb heads into Sunday's game as the first
referee to take charge of a Champions League final and a World
Cup final in the same season.
The bald-headed referee had already had a taste of mass
media interest after his wife Kay made a light-hearted comment
on a breakfast television show on Friday.
"I don't know how he does it. He can't take charge of his
own children. I don't know how he manages it on a football
pitch," she told GMTV - comments that were swiftly reproduced
across the world.
For whether Mrs Webb realised it or not, this weekend her
husband is an international celebrity.
Proving that point, the first question Webb, who has three
children, faced on Saturday was from a Dutch reporter asking for
his reaction on his wife's quip.
"I will speak to my wife when we return," said the policeman
with a grin, before adding, "I am certain she was only joking, my
children are very well behaved."
Webb is the first Englishman to officiate the final since
Jack Taylor in 1974 and he acknowledged the advice he has
received over the years from Taylor, who took the brave decision
to award a penalty against hosts West Germany in the first
minute of that game.
"He is something of a refereeing legend in England and I
have got to know him fairly well - he was a fairly big
supporter of me early in my career. To take advice and support
from somebody like Jack was a real honour," he said.
"He took a big decision in that game and part of our job is
to take big decisions, sometimes courageous decisions at any
time in a game and that's our duty on Sunday night," he said.
The fathers of Webb and his two assistants Darren Cann and
Michael Mullarkey are all ex-referees and all three will watch
the final at Soccer City.
Follow FFT.com on Twitter
Join FFT.com on Facebook
Central defender fit enough to play in the Champions League final at Wembley
Bayern Munich unfazed by the need to be more clinical in attack against Borussia Dortmund
Ruud Gullit believes Bayern Munich are in for a shock when they take on Borussia Dortmund
Napoli president denies reports that he has named Rafael Benitez as club's new manager
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010