Depending on your point-of-view, or your nationality, Howard Webb may be a valiant defender of good soccer or a cheating bastard. Webb is the English referee who awarded a controversial penalty to Austria during their match with Poland, effectively eliminating the Poles from the European Championships. A flurry of criticism followed: Polish Minister of Sport Miroslaw Drzewiecki said, “The referee is a liar. He was cheating all the time.” And Prime Minister Donald Tusk actually claimed to have wanted to kill him.
Some fans applauded Webb for trying to crack down on the excess shoving and wrestling that takes place in front of the goal during free kicks and corners. But Tusk and Drzewiecki weren’t alone in their criticism of the official. Pictures and videos popped up all over the internet labeling Webb “wanted dead” and proclaiming him the referee equivalent of Hitler. And in Warsaw, a Polish fan erected a huge billboard of Webb and invited passersby to write messages, which, the billboard claims, will be sent to the referee. Our Polish is a little rusty, but we don’t think they’ve written, “Hey, ref, you need glasses.”