Apologies for a slight overlap with something I posted in the Euro 2008 thread, but there is an interesting piece in today's Guardian about the English football referee Howard Webb, who, for those of you who don't know (or care) about football, has been at the centre of some controversy in the current Euro 2008 competition. The contoversy has arisen because Webb awarded a penalty against Poland in the 2nd minute of "time added on" (for injuries etc.) at the end of their game against Austria, which led to the Austrians equalising, thus jeopardising the Poles' chances of progressing in the competition. The problem being that the award was for the all-too-commonly perpertrated, but all-too-rarely punished, foul of shirt-pulling while the players were jostling for position at a corner. This is an offence that UEFA have asked the referees to be strict about and Webb had warned the Poles several times during the game that they were close to the line in their actions while defending corners. The article is interesting in what it has to say about UEFA's high-profile backing for Webb's decision and the fact that he has retained his next appointment (Spain v Greece) despite the clamour from Poland (including their Prime Minister's ridiculous comment that he wanted to "kill" Webb). It's also interesting for what Webb has to say about how he and his assistant referees have reviewed the game and seen what they got right (inlcuding the penalty in their view) and learned from their mistakes (including awarding goal to the Poles that was offside - not many people in Poland seem to have been complaining about that decision...). But most importantly from a hockey umpiring perspective is Webb's comment that "[The referees] are here to do a job and we do the job always honestly and to the best of our ability. We don't want to be popular but we want to be respected." I think that's an honest and accurate view of the right frame of mind for any serious sports official. Would others agree?