Football Association chairman David Bernstein has leapt to the defence of referee Howard Webb following a sustained attack on the official in the wake of Mario Balotelli's violent conduct charge.

Manchester City striker Balotelli has until 6pm today to respond to the charge relating to an incident in which he appeared to stamp on Scott Parker's head during Sunday's 3-2 Barclays Premier League win over Tottenham. City assistant manager David Platt said he felt Webb had seen the incident in real time meaning Balotelli should not have been charged.

Bernstein has now issued a strong statement on behalf of the man who refereed the last World Cup final, saying: "Howard Webb is a fantastic referee and a great ambassador for the sport. His ability and integrity are beyond question."

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