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Howard Webb Recalls The Decision That Saw Him Receive "Thousands Of Death Threats"

Mikey Traynor
By Mikey Traynor
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Howard Webb sat down for a Facebook Live Q & A session with Match Of The Day's Facebook page today, and like us you probably immediately thought that's a very bad idea, but the questions were pre-approved.

So basically we watched a live video with Howard Webb that didn't need to be live at all, but hey... It turns out there were a few interesting answers, in particular to a question regarding fear for his own safety.


After claiming that the worst mistake of his career was not sending off Nigel De Jong for his kick on Xabi Alonso in the 2010 World Cup Final, he was asked if at any point did he fear for his safety.

I suppose, the tournament of Euro 2008 was the one which caused the most problems for me.

In the last minute of a game between Austria and Poland, in Vienna in the group stage, with the score at 1-0 to Poland, I awarded a penalty to Austria for a shirt holding offence. It was a really clear pull of the shirt, it was on Sebastian Prodl of Watford actually.

Didn't think much more about it, Austria equalised, we flew back to our base the next day in Zurich the next day. I waited for my baggage at the carousel in the airport and turned my phone on to receive a message from the police headquarters in Sheffield.

It was basically saying 'ring us urgently there's a problem', so straight away you panic about your family, and I phoned to be told there was thousands of death threats made against me by disgruntled Polish football fans.

There was a number who went online and made the threats and the police were taking it seriously, there was a patrol put around my house in South Yorkshire and also around the hotel in Zurich. We thought we wouldn't get another game because there was so much talk around this decision, a correct decision by the way.

But we did get a game involving Spain in Salzburg a few days later, and when I got off the plane I was met by the head of police in who said "Welcome to Salzburg, Mr. Webb, we will not let them kill you here"...

Which was really great reassurance.


Don't award penalties against Poland, a lesson for any aspiring refs out there. The Austrian police chief doesn't sound like the most subtle individual either.


It was an interesting chat with Webb for MOTD, and you can watch the Q & A session in full below:


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