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Polish fans blame Howard Webb for Euro 08 exit

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English referees tend to be in the spotlight in international tournaments for the wrong reasons – Graham Poll with his 3 yellow cards in Germany 06 and now Howard Webb with the penalty award that gave Austria a point and more crucially, effectively ended Poland’s Euro 2008 campaign.

In the aftermath of the draw, Poland manager Leo Beenhakker blamed Webb for what he called Poland’s exit from the Euros, saying:

“Maybe he wants to show he is a big boy and has the guts to do it, I don’t know.”

After the game ended, Poland fans raged against Web, with hate-filled videos and images popping up within minutes of the match ending. One article on Soccerlens profiling Howard Webb received around 300 comments in the 3 hours between the end of the game and the point where comments were closed and subsequently removed. The comments were full of hate and vitriol, aiming sexual abuse and death threats towards the English referee and claiming that Webb had taken bribes to give that penalty (you really had to see them to understand the depth of anger and hatred vented in those comments).

As we have discussed earlier, football fans can be idiots and as a reader as already suggested, football offers an escape and emotional release from day-to-day drudgery, and these emotions can turn violent when idiots en masse are sufficiently incensed.

If you saw the game, you’d know that Austria had spurned clear scoring chances until they conceded the goal, and that the Poland goal might have been called offside on another day. All of this went out of the window though, considering the stoppage time penalty that Webb gave.

Referees are under tremendous amounts of pressure and I presume that English referees are under even more pressure after Poll’s mistake in Germany – perhaps the FA should go easy on the refs and tell them to do their best instead of asking them to defend England’s honour and integrity?

Webb thought that was a penalty, and he had the guts to make the call. This isn’t about wanting the limelight, it’s about doing the right thing and doing your job right. Even if he got it wrong – and refs do get it wrong sometimes – he didn’t shirk away from giving a decision.

Poll got victimised in the English press for pretty much the same thing. Will Webb, who has been an exceptional referee so far, be given the same treatment? I sincerely hope not, just as I hope Webb’s safety is not under threat from England-based Polish fans.

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Comments (17)

  1. Webb did was he has be trained to do. He called back the free-kick, told the offending Polish player to stop fouling at the restart and then when he saw the obvious foul he called the PK. No problem if it happened in the first half according to “unwritten rules”. Give Webb credit for having some balls instead of berating him, a foul is a foul no matter when, if it is the penalty box it is a PK.Period.Full stop!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Howard Webb wanted to help Austria because they were the hometeam which would have been out. If you look at the game on replay he ignored Austrian fouls at about 2 to 1. How can you say he was objective. read my commend here about the Austrian player from Norway. http://www.claritaslux.com/blog/2008/06/12/howard-webb-as-an-austrian-player/ Webb had a motive and watch on reply how he ignored the Austrian aggression and how the Austrian’s provoked the situation with the help of Webb.

  3. “If you saw the game, you’d know that Austria had spurned clear scoring chances until they conceded the goal, and that the Poland goal might have been called offside on another day. All of this went out of the window though, considering the stoppage time penalty that Webb gave.”

    Mr. Bilal, the offsides were on the both sides its the Boruc who made the difference – Austrians had 100% situation from the offside as well – the fact is that Poland had much better goalkeeper

    “Webb thought that was a penalty, and he had the guts to make the call. This isn’t about wanting the limelight, it’s about doing the right thing and doing your job right. Even if he got it wrong – and refs do get it wrong sometimes – he didn’t shirk away from giving a decision.”

    … after the repetition of the free kick
    The same abuse were on the polish players by the austrian at the same time if You take a close look by the way
    WHEN YOU WRITE AN ARTICLE WRITE THE ALL ASPECTS OF THE ISSUE!!!

  4. The hatred is unbelievable. It’s a game. ffs

  5. same kind of “fouls” happens at least 3 or 4 times during the match – i just hope that English team (which wasnt even strong enough to qualify) will have same situation on euro 2012. ill watch ur comments then … anyway im just a bit disappointed coz i thoght that Euro, unlike World Cup, is scam-free, but i guess i was wrong.

  6. Paul and Ahmed have it spot on. It was a penalty (although the kind that are seldom given), and Poland was offside. Although, I’ll confess, it was only after watching the replays I could say that with any confidence.

  7. First of all if you watch closely Roger’s goal was after Saganowski shot with went of Austrian payer so that wasn’t offside. Second of all for the fouls like that we should see at lest 10 penalties a game.
    I wonder what You, English fans would do if that happened to you. I watch English league, and I’m a big fan, there is wrestling in the box every time, I’m just saying I didn’t see that coming especially from English ref.
    P.S. Sorry about my English :)

  8. Just to add my agreement. It was a penalty, and Webb called it. Polish fans are looking for a scapegoat when they should blame the defender for giving away a soft penalty at a crucial moment. We know that shirt-tugging goes on the whole time, but do it right in front of the ref and what do you expect…

  9. Ditto Duncan.

    The Polish defender made a really stupid decision in my opinion. Sure, there’s plenty of tugging, shirt pulling, and pushing on set pieces and corner-kicks in general, but on this one the ball’s trajectory, Webb, and the Polish defender were all in a straight line. It was really tough for the referee to miss the (pretty obvious) shirt pull.

    Rather unlucky for Poland, although I don’t find it surprising to see conspiracy theorists jump all over this one. After all, Austria are one of the host countries.

  10. Blimey, there are some real no brainers adding comments to this particular thread.
    As a referee ( & colleague) of Howard, the thought of him failing to referee teams equally is completely farsicle! He has referee’d football since 1989 (19 years) at all levels of the game. Why on Earth would he not referee the match in a fair manner? Bribes? BE REAL!!! He loves the game – thats why he does it, same as the rest of us! Why would he have is integrity jeopardised at the biggest Football event of the year. Moving onto the two main points of the match (the goals)At first viewing (& also after the slow mo shown 3 million times on TV) the Poland player looks on side, so how does the asst give decision in his heart of hearts hasn’t seen an offence committed? Then, the penalty. How stupid are footballers. Howard tells whatever the blonde haired idiot is called to stop pushing his opponent. Then, when the free kick comes in, Captain brainless centreback decides to swap shirts with the Austrian forward.! The most blatant penalty you’re likely to see this tournament! I don’t mind people expressing thier points, but engage your brain first!!!

  11. Firstly, that Polish goal was offside by AT LEAST a foot. Why aren’t Poles sending death threats to the referee about that? Because it was to their advantage. They wanted and needed that goal, because they were absolutely outplayed the first half. Maybe the referee called the penalty to make the Austrians happy after that first terrible call. I think it was a borderline penalty. But still. Why not help the Austrians when you made a terrible call to their disadvantage before, especially when it might be truly a penalty?

  12. It’s a shame that polish fail to admit that they played an awful football last night. Poland neither deserved to win or advance to the next round.

    Also, the fact that 90% of polish refs take bribes and that most of the football clubs in Poland are corrupted doesn’t mean that it is such a common practice outside of the polish borders.

    I’m polish and it’s scary that our supporters don’t see how bad we play and try to blame decent people for their loss.

    I’ve read our president’s (Lech Kaczynski) comment in polish paper today he is also blaming the ref. It’s so typical for Poland.

  13. Howard Webb got the right call, and you have all have too much bias to see it. When you stop play to explicitly tell someone to stop grabbing and pushing or i’ll call a foul. If they continue to do it, then you call the foul. This is not rocket science. Additionally, you can’t make a different call because of the time of the game. If that same play happens in the 20th minute instead of the 90th+, he’s going to make the call both ways. You polish fans are grasping at straws. I knew you had no chance of advancing out of the group when you got thrashed at home by USA. I’m a USA fan, but Poland is a lot worse than us, and they deserve to be out of the Euro’s

  14. UFEA just make a statement in which fully support british referee saying that is right to blow wistle when someone pulling shirt in consequence knockin over opponent. In my opinion it was look like the opponent was tired and decide to lay down.

  15. Mental note to self: never visit Poland. Obviously a country with extreme anger and self-control issues.

  16. I actually think the decision was correct. The player was brought down by a player who had hold of his shirt. If the defender is stupid enough to grab a players shirt while in the area, then it is likely to happen. If the defender concentrates on his job and doesn’t grab his shirt we wouldn’t be having this discusion. Well done Howard Webb

  17. And comments have to be closed again…thanks everyone…