I’m not a Devil, says EPL referee Howard

Published on 11/06/2009

By Robin Toskin in Pretoria, SA

English Premier League referee Howard Webb insists he is not a Manchester United fan.

Webb, one of the referees for the Fifa Confederations Cup here in South Africa, told FeverPitch what English newspapers write about him being a United fan is ‘crap’.

‘I don’t even come from Manchester. If anything I prefer Sheffield United to Manchester because I come from Rotherham which is 10km from Sheffield,’ Webb said with a cheeky smile on his face.

The English press is fond of inferring that the clean shaven and controversial referee is a die hard Red Devil after he was seen taking a Cristiano Ronaldo jersey as souvenir.

‘Last week I was a Liverpool fan and I don’t know what else they will say I’m a fan of,’ Webb told FeverPitch after training at the Absa Stadium, Pretoria.

Asked if he thought Ronaldo and Didier Drogba were divers as it is widely thought Webb said: ‘Unfortunately people look at it with emotion. As a referee I don’t look at it that way because I will be pre-judging. That is the worst thing you can do as a referee.’

On the Barclay English Premier League (EPL), Webb said: ‘I think it is the speed, the intensity and technically gifted players are in England that makes people feel it is the best league in the world. But I think there are other very good players spread across European leagues like Spain, Italy and Germany.’

Webb was full of praise for African players in the English League saying they have contributed a lot to its growth.

The Englishman is the only centre referee from the EPL picked for the Fifa Confederations Cup that kicks off on Sunday. Peter Kirkup and Mike Mullaikey are the two assistants referees from the Premiership.

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