Liverpool’s Ryan Babel has been charged with improper conduct by the FA for posting a digitally-altered photo of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt on his Twitter feed. Webb awarded a first-minute penalty and later sent off Reds captain Steven Gerrard in Sunday’s 1-0 FA Cup defeat against the Red Devils. Across the field, Anfield teammate Glen Johnson has also set the Twittersphere alight with caustic comments about TV pundit Paul Merson.
No computer controversy, just CGI creation and incomparable class and beauty in Sylvie Van Der Vaart’s “juggling” commercial for Gillette.
Forget Becks, Rafa’s ravishing missus looks like she could be the signing to put Spurs over the top this transfer window. Get on it, Arry! Phwoar!
Andres Iniesta’s extra-time goal gives Spain their first World Cup title with a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands, the fourth straight 1-0 win for Spain in the knockout round of World Cup 2010. The Dutch picked up eight yellows and defender Johnny Heitinga saw red from English referee Howard Webb in what was a hard-fought final that didn’t produce too many highlight moments. The much-maligned Fernando Torres came off the bench and helped set up Iniesta’s goal, making the reigning champions of Europe the eighth team to win the World Cup. The last country to hold both titles simultaneously was France in 1998 and 2000. Congratulations to La Furia Roja. Time to party on College Street and in Espana. We’ll be back with more later.
Thirty days later and we’ve arrived here: The Final Countdown. One game, two European teams, both of whom have been stuck with the “choker” label in recent years. Half a billion people are expected to watch the final. No pressure, boys. Let’s ease into it then, with the consolation round!
Germany and Uruguay kept true to the form of past third-place games, with the goals coming fast and furious. The match finished 3-2 Germany, though Uruguay’s Golden Boy Diego Forlan hit the crossbar in the last minute. A new dawn has risen for German football — with a young team that should impress for years to come. Let’s hope the same can be said for little Uruguay.
Goals from Forlan and Germany’s Thomas Muller bring both players to five. That makes them level with Wesley Sneijder and David Villa for the Golden Boot. Of course, Sneijder and Villa have one more shot to build on their tally. There hasn’t been this many players tied for the Golden Boot since Chile ’62… when six players shared the honour.
Blast from the Gen X past: U.S. star Alexei Lalas said he picked Netherlands-Uruguay and Spain-Germany in his bracket, with Holland beating Spain 3-2 in the final. They used to burn Gingers at the stake for stuff like this…
According to FIFA’s foul and card count, the dirtiest team in the tournament will play the cleanest. If you don’t which is which, I’ll throw out a hint: Mark Van Bommel.
The calls have been growing louder for Van Bommel’s head. The Dutchman has only picked up one yellow, despite video evidence showing some vicious attacks through the tournament.
Spanish eyes mustn’t have been smiling when they heard Howard Webb was officiating the final. Webb reffed the 2009 Champions League quarterfinal match between Barcelona and Van Bommel’s Bayern Munich. Watch Van Bommel’s vicious elbow on Lionel Messi. Webb played the advantage — which led to a Barca goal. Trust me, the Spaniards haven’t forgotten…
Enjoy the final!
Without any concerns of Uruguayan complications to worry about, Premier League referee Howard Webb has been tabbed to handle Sunday’s World Cup Final between the Netherlands and Spain at Soccer City in Soweto. Finally, an Englishman in the World Cup Final! The last was Jack Taylor in 1974.
The news comes on the same day that FIFA says it will make refereeing changes to ensure there’s no repeat of the goal-line blunder that hurt England at this World Cup.
The no-nonsense Webb, a 38-year-old former police officer from South Yorkshire, has been in charge of three matches so far and has not awarded a red card or a penalty kick. Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey will serve as Webb’s assistants.
Webb, who handled this year’s Champions League Final, issued ten cards in the 2007 Carling Cup Final between Chelsea and Arsenal. He was also in charge of the 2009 FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Everton.
At this World Cup, Webb worked Spain’s tournament-opening loss to Switzerland, Slovakia’s upset of Italy and Brazil’s round of 16 victory over Chile.
Also, At The Rails would like to say a sad farewell to Robert Millward, the London-based sportswriter for the Associated Press, who was found dead in his Johannesburg hotel room today after apparently suffering a heart attack. Today’s preview of Sunday’s final was the last story he ever filed. Millward, a West Brom supporter, was 58.