Howard Webb has spoken of his pride after being chosen as a referee for this summer’s World Cup in Brazil – the first time in the post-war era that a World Cup final referee has been selected for the following tournament – but Scotland’s Craig Thomson has been overlooked.
Webb, 42, has been chosen by Fifa along with his assistants from the 2010 World Cup, Mike Mullarkey and Darren Cann. Mark Clattenburg and Thomson, who had been on Fifa’s provisional list of referees, have missed out on selection.
The 2010 final was a difficult match for Webb – he showed a record 14 yellow and one red card in a bad-tempered affair between Spain and Holland, and afterwards admitted he should have sent off Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong for a chest-high boot into Xabi Alonso instead of just booking him. Nevertheless, the policeman from South Yorkshire is delighted to be returning to the tournament.
“All referees want to officiate on the biggest stage, so it’s a great honour for myself, Darren and Mike to return to the Fifa World Cup finals,” he said. “The World Cup is special to be part of. We had an amazing experience in South Africa and our involvement in the Confederations Cup last year means we can’t wait to return to Brazil for what promises to be a terrific tournament.
“Our appointment is also an endorsement of the standard of refereeing in this country. This is the best group of Select Group referees I’ve ever worked with and I’m sure we’ll see several of them at major tournaments in the future.”
In South Africa, Webb also took charge of the group matches between Spain and Switzerland and Italy and Slovakia as well as the last-16 clash between Brazil and Chile. He made history when he became the first man to officiate the final of both the Champions League and the World Cup in the same year.
Mike Riley, general manager of Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), paid tribute to Webb.
“All of the staff and officials at PGMOL are thrilled at Howard, Darren and Mike being appointed,” said Riley. “It’s great credit to Howard’s professionalism, and his love of the game, that he has only got better since taking charge of the 2010 World Cup final and is fully deserving of his selection for Brazil.
“It’s unprecedented in modern-day refereeing what Howard, Darren and Mike have done here: they should be very proud at getting selected again after already having taken charge of the World Cup final.
“He and his team are a fantastic example to young referees and assistant referees of what years of dedication delivers.”
Fifa said the referees had been selected “based especially on their personality and their quality in football understanding by being able to read the game and the teams’ tactical approaches towards each game”.
The list includes nine referees from Europe, five from South America, four from Asia, three each from Africa and Concacaf (north, central American and the Caribbean) and one from Oceania. Each referee was selected as part of a team including two assistants.
WORLD CUP REFS
Asia: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan), Yuichi Nishimura (Japan), Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain), Ben Williams (Australia)
Africa: Noumandiez Doue (Ivory Coast), Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Djamel Haimoudi (Algeria)
Concacaf: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Mark Geiger (United States), Marco Rodriguez Moreno (Mexico)
South America: Enrique Osses (Chile), Nestor Pitana (Argentina), Wilmar Roldan (Colombia), Sandro Ricci (Brazil), Carlos Vera Rodriguez (Ecuador)
Oceania: Peter O’Leary (New Zealand)
Europe: Felix Brych (Germany), Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey), Jonas Eriksson (Sweden), Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands), Milorad Mazic (Serbia), Pedro Proenca (Portugal), Nicola Rizzoli (Italy), Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain), Howard Webb (England)