- Associated Press - Monday, July 12, 2010

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Referee Howard Webb hoped to be a calming influence on the World Cup final.

It didn’t work out that way.

Webb handed out yellow cards to 13 different players and ejected John Heitinga after showing the Netherlands defender a second yellow in extra time of its 1-0 loss to Spain on Sunday.

All the yellows were a record for the tournament, far surpassing the six collected by Argentina and West Germany in 1986. Eight Dutchmen were shown the yellow card and five Spaniards.

Before the game, Webb said his perfect match was when “nobody is speaking about the officials, and they are speaking about the excellent game of football.”

But Dutch players had to be pulled away from Webb at the end of the game, among them Arjen Robben.

Among his grievances was a no call; Webb did not give a second yellow to defender Carles Puyol in the 82nd minute when he appeared to impede Robben.

“He has to send him (Puyol) off and give a free kick,” Robben said.

“For me, it is very clear _ that after such a game when you sit in the dressing room there is only talking about the referee, and I think that’s a bad point.

“If you play a World Cup final, you need a world-class referee. I don’t know if today was a world-class performance from the referee.”

At the end of the game, Netherlands midfielders Mark van Bommel and Wesley Sneijder headed directly toward Webb.

Robben, who was given a yellow for protesting that he was fouled by Puyol, joined in as defender Joris Mathijsen rushed over to gesticulate angrily.

Webb was not made available after the game.

All the Dutch players were upset at a decision which indirectly led to Spain’s winning goal.

From a Dutch free kick, Sneijder’s shot was deflected wide _ but Webb awarded a goal kick, Spain broke forward and Andres Iniesta scored.

“We don’t have the cup and that’s the reason why we’re here,” Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg said. “You can blame the referee. Everybody outside the stadium can see it was a corner, but he didn’t and the assistant also (missed it).”

At the end of the game, a chorus of jeers and whistles rained down from the Dutch fans at Soccer City when Webb led his assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey to receive their gifts from South Africa President Jacob Zuma and FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The 38-year-old Webb is one of the few full-time referees in world soccer, after taking a lengthy leave of absence from the South Yorkshire police force.

He worked his way back to the top of his profession after being sent home early from the 2008 European Championship when he missed an offside call in a group match which is remembered for a penalty kick call that earned him death threats from Polish fans.

He was awarded control of the World Cup final after near-faultless handling of three previous games at the tournament, in which he showed 17 yellow cards.

Webb was widely praised for his player-management skills while showing four yellows to each team in a tense group match when Slovakia eliminated defending champion Italy with a 3-2 victory.

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