Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Former FIFA referee agrees with angry Netherlands over Bukayo Saka controversy

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A former top-flight official has expressed his astonishment that England were given a penalty kick in their Euro 2024 triumph over the Netherlands.

England secured their place in the final against Spain this Sunday, thanks to a last-gasp strike from Ollie Watkins, which came after an early setback caused by Xavi Simons’ opener. Harry Kane’s penalty equalised for the Three Lions before the break, but the decision to award the spot-kick has sparked debate.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was called upon when Kane was clipped on the foot by Denzel Dumfries while they both attempted to play a lofted ball, with the referee Felix Zwayer awarding a penalty after watching replays of the incident. Compounding the controversy is the allegation that Arsenal forward Bukayo Saka committed a handball in the lead-up to the penalty call.

Fans are taking to social media in droves, highlighting a replay suggesting Saka’s hand touched the ball – a detail allegedly overlooked during the VAR check, reports the Mirror. Adding his voice to the sceptics, ex-FIFA referee Jonas Eriksson, who took charge of games at the 2014 World Cup, questioned the call during a review on SVT Sports, saying: “Here, I am surprised that they don’t go and look and overturn the penalty

“According to the rulebook, it is a penalty. In reality, when you have to interpret it, I don’t think it should be a punishment. It is a clear hand [from Saka] and it means that no penalty should be awarded to Kane.”

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman disagreed with the penalty decision in his post-match interview, stating: “In my opinion it should not have been a penalty. He kicked the ball and the boots touched. I think that we cannot play properly football and this is due to VAR. It really breaks football.”

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