Referee Howard Webb, who took charge of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Final, has retired as an official, taking on the role of technical director for the organisation that oversees refereeing in England.
Webb has stepped out onto the pitch with whistle and cards in hands for a quarter of a century, becoming the first Englishman to officiate a World Cup final in 36 years, and the first referee ever to do it in the same year as taking charge of the UEFA Champions League final. Domestically he has refereed over 500 games in the English Premier League since his first game in the top division in 2003.
“I am very excited to start this new chapter in my career after a wonderfully rewarding 25 years on the pitch. I have spent over a decade with the best seat in the house,” Webb said, whose role with the Professional Game Match Officials Limited will also include educating and informing the public on refereeing matters.
The 43-year-old was present at Brazil 2014, taking charge of Colombia-Côte d'Ivoire and Brazil-Chile in the Round of 16, as part of appearing in 21 games at six FIFA tournaments. He also officiated at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007, the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009, the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 and the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013.
“Today is a special and sad day because one of the best referees in the world has brought his career to a close. Howard was always serious and prepared for every game in a very professional way,” FIFA Head of Refereeing Massimo Bussaca said.
“Without passion and natural quality you can not reach the highest level. Howard was always a great example for every young referee. I am sure he will be able to transmit his knowledge and experience to many referees in England and around the world in his new role. My advice to him? Be like you were on the pitch.”
Speaking to FIFA ahead of the latest World Cup, Webb cast his mind back to the game in Soccer City between Spain and the Netherlands four years earlier. “It was a great honour to be there. It was fantastic. That Final completely changed my life.
“[I remember] walking towards the pitch, picking up the golden Jabulani ball and going past the World Cup Trophy. It was the shiniest piece of metal I’ve ever seen in my life: a golden statue with a globe on top and a green base. It’s incredible.”
My best wishes to Howard Webb. 2007-14: 21 games, 6 FIFA competitions. A record! Happy his experience to be retained. pic.twitter.com/6oEEVBqRG5
— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) August 6, 2014