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FA hit back at Webb criticism

Image: Howard Webb: The 2010 World Cup final referee was called a coward by Mario Balotelli's agent

The Football Association have defended referee Howard Webb following critical comments made by Mario Balotelli's agent.

The FA respond to Mario Balotelli's agent calling Webb a coward

The Football Association have defended referee Howard Webb following critical comments made by Mario Balotelli's agent. Mino Raiola labelled the official a 'coward', suggesting that Webb changed his mind over an apparent stamp by Balotelli that has led to a violent conduct charge for the striker. Webb took no action in the game, but Balotelli is now set to miss four games after the incident with Scott Parker in Manchester City's 3-2 win over Tottenham on Sunday.

Great ambassador

FA chairman David Bernstein has moved to support the Yorkshireman and said: "Howard Webb is a fantastic referee and a great ambassador for the sport. His ability and integrity are beyond question. "He has the utmost respect from within football in England and around the world. That could not have been demonstrated more clearly than in 2010, when he was chosen to referee the UEFA Champions League final and the FIFA World Cup final, and this summer he has been selected for UEFA Euro 2012. "We all have a duty to respect our referees. To question their integrity or imply anything other than total impartiality is reckless and unfounded. "It harms the perception and treatment of referees at every level of football, and we must not allow that climate to exist." Meanwhile, the FA has also been explaining the process by which they ban a player through violent conduct. The governing body has revealed that a referee makes the final decision on whether a player should have been sent off or not.
Simple process
Spokesman Scott Field explained: "The FA goes through a simple process. First off, it clarifies with the referee whether the incident has been seen or not seen by that particular match official. "If the incident has been seen and dealt with on the day, regardless of the outcome, then the FA do not act. "If the indication from the official is that he did not see the incident then the FA quite simply asks the referee to review the incident and tell the FA what they would have done had they seen it in the first incidence." There were a number of cases that have been scrutinised since the weekend, including incidents involved Peter Crouch and Joleon Lescott. Crouch appeared to eye-gouge West Brom defender Jonas Olsson, while Lescott was seen to elbow Tottenham's Younes Kaboul. But Field has explained that the match officials reviewed both situations and decided against taking action. He added: "In the respect of Joleon Lescott and Peter Crouch, which are incidents that Sky Sports News have highlighted this week, the FA became aware of these, asked the respective match officials whether they had seen the incident. "It was indicated by both match officials that they hadn't, so the subsequent question was then asked by the FA: 'Had you seen the incident what would you have done?' "The indication from the match official was that they would have not dismissed the player for that particular incident. Where that happens, the FA then closes the case file and no further action occurs."

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