Soccer News

Soccer-Euro-Webb defends Austria penalty, but Pole goal offside

ZURICH, June 15 (Reuters) - Referee Howard Webb defended his decision on Sunday to award a controversial late penalty to co-hosts Austria against Poland at Euro 2008 that led to the Polish prime minister saying he wanted to kill him.

Webb conceded, however, that he should not have allowed Poland’s opening goal in the same match on Thursday because it was offside.

Polish media and fans lambasted the English official for awarding the stoppage time penalty after Sebastian Proedl was dragged down by Mariusz Lewandowski.

Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he felt like he wanted to “kill” Webb after Ivica Vastic converted the spot kick for Austria.

“I gave the decision that I saw was right at the time. I hope that people later look back and see it was the right decision,” Webb told reporters at his base on the outskirts of Zurich.

“All referees have to stand up and be counted.”


Webb, officiating at his first major international senior tournament, said he was unaware of Tusk’s comments or any threats by Polish fans which were reported by media.

“I know things are said in the heat of moment that don’t necessarily mean it has been meant in that way. Most fans are decent people,” he said.

“I have not received any threats and am not aware of any.

“This criticism is nothing new. You have to develop a thick skin. I gave what I saw on the day,” he added. But Webb’s admittance that he made a mistake for Roger Guerreiro’s 30th-minute opener for Poland will be of little comfort to co-hosts Austria who must defeat Germany on Monday to have any chance of progress to the quarter-finals.

“The Polish goal was offside. We made a mistake and we have watched the videos so we will do our best to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Webb said.

“We are not perfect. But we just put all that aside and look forward to the next appointment in Salzburg.”

Webb has been appointed for the Group D match between Greece and Spain on Wednesday. (Editing by Jon Bramley)