Babel charged by FA over Webb tweet

Liverpool midfielder Ryan Babel was charged with improper conduct by the Football Association (FA) today after posting a mocked-up photo of referee Howard Webb wearing a Manchester United shirt on social networking site Twitter.

The picture appeared on the Dutch forward's official page on Twitter just hours after United beat Liverpool 1-0 in the third round of the FA Cup yesterday - a match refereed by Webb.

Webb, who refereed last year's FIFA World Cup™ final, angered Liverpool by awarding United a first-minute penalty from which Ryan Giggs scored before sending-off Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.

As well as the photo, Babel wrote: "And they call him one of the best referees? That's a joke. SMH (shaking my head)."

The 24-year-old Dutchman subsequently apologised to Webb, saying: "My apology if they (Babel's Twitter 'followers') take my posted pic seriously. This is just an emotional reaction after losing an important game.

"Sorry Howard Webb."

Babel has until 1600GMT on Thursday to respond to the charge.