Former Premier League referee Howard Webb admits he may have made a mistake in not sending off Cristiano Ronaldo in a game between Manchester United and Manchester City.
The 45-year-old, now technical director of the Professional Game Match Officials Board and an occasional pundit, recalled in an interview a time when Ronaldo reacted badly to a yellow card.
The Portuguese winger, now of Real Madrid, sarcastically applauded Webb’s decision to book him in the derby, which could technically have been worth a second yellow.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror, Webb admits there was supposed to be an increased crackdown on dissent at that time, but he felt the occasion may have got to him.
‘I can remember a situation when Cristiano Ronaldo sarcastically applauded me for showing him a yellow card early in the game,’ he said.
‘I was in quite a bit of a dilemma. Should I send him off for this show of lack of respect, or can I manage him?
‘When you’re sending someone off, it’s a big move. When it’s for something that’s not a football related situation, not a bad tackle, not a holding offence that’s denied a promising attack, but something that is not about playing the game, it can put you in a situation where you’re thinking “can I manage this?”
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‘I took the decision to warn him and to this day I’m not sure if that was the right thing to do. Maybe I should have made a big stand and said “no, this is not acceptable”.
‘This was just after the respect initiative came out and really it was down to people like me to set the standard, but sometimes the pressure of the occasion, the magnitude of the occasion sometimes played heavy on you.
‘You wanted some certainty that that was the only option available to you and that you weren’t overreacting. And it wasn’t always easy finding the right balance.’