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Euro Ref Wins Praise For 'Brave' PK Call

Another day at the European Championship, and another ground-breaking decision by a referee that will prompt several days of discussion. Earlier in the week it was Ruud Van Nistelrooy's goal against Italy, incorrectly deemed offside by many observers. Thursday it was Austria's last=minute penalty kick against Poland, awarded for shirt-pulling in the penalty area.
True, defenders have been getting way with this kind of foul for years, but the rules state that shirt-pulling is an infringement, so the decision, given by English referee Howard Webb, was absolutely correct. And the television pundits in his own country were mostly behind him. "A lot of referees talk a good game but he's done a good game," said Celtic manager and BBC pundit Gordon Strachan. "He's been brave enough to put his head on the block and say, 'Enough is enough'." His colleague Alan Hansen said: "It was controversial, but brave."
Former England striker Alan Shearer said that Webb "got it absolutely right. But how often do we see this given? Never. You can't criticize him [Webb], but the problem is consistency. If you are going to give it every time, then you are going to get four or five penalties every game." Well, whatever it takes. UEFA did after all ask referees to clamp down on exactly this kind of foul, and Webb had even taken the trouble to run to the penalty area just before the penalty kick was given, and warned the defenders to desist from jersey-tugging.

Read the whole story at Times Online »

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