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Referee Webb proves the English can impress at World Cup

Rotherham's Howard Webb, now a favourite to referee the World Cup final, was not about to upset any Fifa apple-carts by taking on Sepp Blatter over video technology.

Never afraid to make an unpopular decision, he even went the other way in counselling against any "knee-jerk reaction" to recent controversies.

Speaking at a media open day here, the morning after taking charge of his third match, Brazil's win over Chile, he said: "Video replays? That's for somebody else to decide. We've got to go out onto the field of play and make our decisions. Before I was a full-time referee I was a police officer and I went on to the streets to police with the laws of the land that were available to me. It wasn't my job to make the laws or to give the police the tools to do their job, I was there to do my job on the streets."

Webb's other concern is that too much technology could halt the flow of the game, which he has found here to be faster than even the most hectic Premier league match: "My only concern about it would be if we introduced a stop-start culture in football. We work closely with officials from other sports like cricket, and rugby but what we have to preserve is the fluidity of football. We need to take care with that. You can be in a game and the ball switches from an incident at one end to the opposite end in eight seconds and that is one of the beauties of the game. The speed of the modern game at this level is unbelievable."

Webb has so performed impressively this tournament and the two assistants in his regular team, Darren Cann from Norwich and Mike Mullarkey from Plymouth, also did well in the most recent game – making correct calls to allow one Brazilian goal by Luis Fabiano and disallow another by Robinho.

It was the first time an Englishman has been in charge of a knockout game since 1994. The English team now hope to be appointed to a quarter-final this weekend, which would indicate they are highly rated by the refereeing committee.

Cann, the senior assistant, said of the possibility of making the final: "Really it's the old cliché of one game at a time. We hope last night's performance has earned us one more game but we're trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves."

Belfast Telegraph

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