A man who shares a name with and lives in the same town as the British referee who awarded a controversial injury-time penalty in Euro 2008 has received death threats, newspapers here said Saturday.
The Times and the Daily Telegraph both said that Howard Webb, a 62-year-old engineer from Rotherham, northern England, has been offered police protection after a hate campaign by some incensed, but mistaken, Polish fans.
Webb's namesake, who is half his age, gave a penalty against Poland when they were just seconds away from winning their Group B match against co-hosts Austria on Thursday, letting the Austrians pull off a 1-1 draw which severely dented Polish hopes of making the last eight.
Even Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was livid at the decision, admitting he wanted to “kill” the bald-headed English Premier League referee for depriving coach Leo Beenhakker's team of a vital win.
The newspapers said the elder Webb received a number of threatening telephone calls, partly in Polish and English, while his work email account at Rotherham council had to be shut down because it was inundated with hate mail.
Images of a mutilated referee have appeared on the Internet, the newspapers reported. One had a knife in his head; another showed Webb in the crosshairs of a rifle; while a third offered a reward for him “dead or alive”.
Local police have offered the elder Webb — who works on traffic signals and street lighting — protection and advised others with the same name safety tips, they added.
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