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FA chief defends Webb

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has supported Howard Webb after Mario Balotelli’s agent criticised the referee.

Mino Raiola, who represents the unpredictable Manchester City forward, accused Webb of acting like a ‘coward’ for his decision to recommend retrospective action against Balotelli.

The Italian striker was charged with violent conduct in the aftermath of City’s 3-2 win over Tottenham on Sunday, in which he was alleged to have stamped on Spurs midfielder Scott Parker.

No action was taken at the time and Balotelli went on to score a dramatic winner in injury time from the penalty spot.

Raiola appeared to suggest the decision by the FA and Webb to charge Balotelli was influenced by public criticism of the player from Spurs manager Harry Redknapp.

But Bernstein has strongly refuted any such insinuation.

“His (Webb’s) ability and integrity are beyond question,” Bernstein said.

“Howard Webb is a fantastic referee and a great ambassador for the sport. He has the utmost respect from within football in England and around the world.”

“Referees make these decisions with honesty and integrity. They do not have the benefit of numerous camera angles and replays. We all have a duty to respect our referees. To question their integrity or imply anything other than total impartiality is reckless and unfounded.”

The FA also released a statement which said Webb, upon reviewing video evidence, decided if he had seen Balotelli’s challenge during the match, he would have issued a red card.

“The FA is only able to take retrospective action where a match official has indicated that they have not seen an incident,” the statement said.

“Specifically relating to the incident involving Mario Balotelli, Howard Webb did not see the incident but, on review, confirmed that he would have sent the player off if he had seen it at the time.”

“The parameters and laws of the game are set by FIFA and not the FA.”

Balotelli has until late on Wednesday to respond to the charge.

Wed 25 January, 2012
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