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Webb's strength of character given the thumbs up...

The Football Association have heaped praise on the Premier League's Howard Webb after he refereed the 2010 World Cup final.

Thirty nine year-old Webb has been slammed by Dutch media after flashing 14 yellow cards in Spain's 1-0 win, sending off the Netherlands' Everton defender John Heitinga.

Jonathan Hall, the FA's Director on the Professional Game Match Officials Board, was quick to jump to Webb's defence, however, praising him for his displays in South Africa.

"Firstly, we would like to congratulate Howard Webb, Mike Mullarkey and Darren Cann for a wonderful tournament and a very well-handled final in very difficult circumstances," he told

"Nothing should take away from Howard's achievement and it is hard to imagine many other officials being able to match his performance or handle such a fixture so well.

"I think what this does do is strengthen our resolve to support our excellent network of referees in England and it also shows the real value of the work being undertaken by the Respect programme domestically.

"We are all thoroughly proud of the fact FIFA chose to recognise Howard at the very peak of his profession."

David Elleray, chairman of the FA's Referees' Committee, praised Webb for a brave performance and admitted the FA are "very proud" of his appearance in the final.

He said: "Howard and his colleagues demonstrated why FIFA selected them as the best referee team in the 2010 World Cup and the FA is very proud that Howard, like Jack Taylor in 1974, showed impartiality, strength of character and a very high level of accuracy in the most important match in the world.

"Howard, Mike and Darren should look back on this tournament with a sense of pride in their performances, they are a huge credit to our profession and we are all looking forward to welcoming them home."

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