Howard Webb’s hopes of being chosen for one of the remaining three matches have been dealt a serious blow over concerns about the English official refereeing a match involving Argentina.
Sources close to FIFA’s refereeing organisation say it was felt that it would be too sensitive to have the Rotherham referee a match in which Argentina are involved, according to Press Association Sport.
Although there is no history between Webb and Argentina, at a political level it was felt it could cause problems - the Argentina team are still going through a FIFA disciplinary process for displaying a banner claiming the Falkland Islands should belong to their country.
Furthermore, Argentina’s FIFA senior vice-president Julio Grondona has never hidden his disdain for England. In 2011 he called the English “liars” at the FIFA Congress and in an interview with the German press agency DPA refereed to the English as “pirates”.
Webb also refereed the 2010 final, where he booked seven Holland players and sent off John Heitinga in a fiery contest - which might also count against him being charge of a match at this tournament involving the Dutch.
FIFA has never before chosen a match official to referee more than one World Cup final, and it appears that Rotherham man Webb’s best hope of being involved in either the third-place play-off or the final as fourth official.
The favourite for the final is Uzbekistan’s respected referee Ravshan Irmatov, the first person to referee at nine World Cup matches and named four times as the Asian Football Confederation’s referee of the year.