blatter-ap-100712-584

FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks at Monday's World Cup wrap-up press conference in Johannesburg. ((Denis Farrell/Associated Press))

Players from the Netherlands and Spain should have behaved better during the World Cup final, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday.

"It was not exactly what we have, or what I have, expected for fair play on the field of play in the final," Blatter said at a news conference in Johannesburg to mark the end of the tournament.

English referee Howard Webb showed 14 yellow cards — a record for a World Cup final — and one red for Dutch defender John Heitinga as Spain won 1-0 in extra time Sunday night.

Blatter refused to blame the match officials for their handling of an often bad-tempered match, which was watched by an estimated global television audience of 700 million people.

"It is not up to me to judge the performance of the officials in match control," Blatter said. "I can only say it was a very hard task that the refereeing trio had on the field of play.

"They were not helped in this task, I can tell you that."

The Netherlands team was widely criticized for using physical tactics to stop Spain's rhythmic passing style.

Eight Dutch players were shown yellow cards, with Heitinga sent off after Webb — a former policeman — showed him a second yellow in extra time when the score was still 0-0.

Blatter said he could not comment directly on the conduct of the Netherlands team "even if I have seen all the irregularities as a spectator."

The FIFA president said soccer is a physical game, but one that also educates players in certain values.

"When you learn to lose, you should not forget the basics, which is discipline and respect," Blatter said.

Five Spain players were booked, and defender Carles Puyol came close to a red when he appeared to impede forward Arjen Robben's run on goal late in regulation time. Webb allowed Robben to continue and attempt a shot.

FIFA is likely to open a disciplinary case against the Dutch team, and can also investigate Spain.

In FIFA's disciplinary code, article 52 relating to team misconduct calls for national teams to be fined if at least five players receive yellow cards in a match.

Blatter was booed by some sections in the 84,490 crowd at Soccer City on Sunday when his name was announced and he walked on the field for pre-match ceremonies with the teams.

"I was only aware there were less vuvuzelas," Blatter said. "I have been received like a friend, like an African, in this country. We went on the field of play and it was a great moment."

Blatter awarded South Africa a 9-out-of-10 score for its successful hosting of Africa's first World Cup, after fears the country could not deliver a well-organized and safe tournament.

He also paid tribute to former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, who was instrumental in persuading FIFA to take the World Cup to his country. The 91-year-old Mandela was briefly presented to the Soccer City crowd before the match.

"The dream was of this man," Blatter said. "He brought the World Cup to South Africa."