Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Netherlands players and pundits furious about England’s controversial VAR penalty

By Supriya Karia Jul 11, 2024
Netherlands players and pundits furious about England’s controversial VAR penalty

The VAR suggested that referee Felix Zwayer take a second look at this challenge – Shutterstock/RONALD WITTEK

Dutch players and pundits turned on referee Felix Zwayer after England won the Euro 2024 semi-final 2-1 via a contentious penalty decision.

Virgil van Dijk, the team’s captain, and former striker Pierre van Hooijdonk both launched attacks on Zwayer as recriminations began on Netherlands TV.

Harry Kane’s spot-kick proved the most controversial moment of the match, cancelling out a superb Xavi Simons opener. Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries was dismayed after being adjudged – following a VAR-review – to have recklessly challenged Kane as he attempted to block a shot.

Referee Felix Zwayer checks the Video Assistant Referee screen and England are awarded a penalty following the review, after Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands (not pictured) is adjudged to have fouled Harry Kane of England (not pictured), during the UEFA EURO 2024 semi-final match between Netherlands and England at Football Stadium Dortmund on July 10, 2024 in Dortmund, GermanyReferee Felix Zwayer checks the Video Assistant Referee screen and England are awarded a penalty following the review, after Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands (not pictured) is adjudged to have fouled Harry Kane of England (not pictured), during the UEFA EURO 2024 semi-final match between Netherlands and England at Football Stadium Dortmund on July 10, 2024 in Dortmund, Germany

Felix Zwayer has a look at the incident on the pitchside monitor – Getty Images/Dan Mullan

Van Dijk and Ronald Koeman both believed the decision was wrong. “The referee ran back inside straight after the full time whistle, that says a lot,” said the Liverpool defender immediately after the match.

Appearing on Dutch TV station NOS, Van Hooijdonk said: “Felix Zwayer, put him on the black list. The penalty in the first half, the many moments in the second half, these moments have decided the final outcome of this game.”

Kane: ‘My foot’s hanging off!’

Kane insisted he had deserved his penalty in the 18th minute, saying: “My foot’s hanging off so he definitely caught me! Sometimes you get them sometimes you don’t. I was happy to step up and see that go in the back of he net. It was a nice feeling for sure.”

England's forward #09 Harry Kane reacts after he is fouled leading to a successful penalty kick for England during the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-final football match between the Netherlands and England at the BVB Stadion in Dortmund on July 10, 2024England's forward #09 Harry Kane reacts after he is fouled leading to a successful penalty kick for England during the UEFA Euro 2024 semi-final football match between the Netherlands and England at the BVB Stadion in Dortmund on July 10, 2024

Kane felt the effect of the challenge – AFP/Kenzo Tribouillard

However pundits were less convinced. In Telegraph Sport’s live coverage, columnist Jamie Carragher said it was “never a penalty” while Lee Dixon, co-commentating on ITV, said: “I’m pleased, don’t get me wrong but you have to challenge for the ball. I don’t think it’s a penalty but I don’t care.”

Gary Neville and Ian Wright were involved in a heated exchange in the ITV studio at half time as they disagreed with the decision.

Neville said: “As a defender, I think it’s a disgrace. To give that penalty at any time, but in a semi-final. It’s nowhere near a penalty and not many England players were claiming it. You take your luck.”

Wright replied: “That is reckless. His studs are up. They’ve given it – anywhere else on the pitch and it’s a foul.”

But Neville snapped back: “If someone thinks that’s reckless? Honestly that’s not a penalty. There has to be licence to try and block the shot.”

Former England captain Alan Shearer, speaking on BBC 5 Live, said: “England players are looking at the referee, they think there is a collision. Denzel Dumfries does connect with Harry Kane. There was no contact to the ball from Dumfries.”

Michael Owen, who controversially won a penalty at the World Cup against Argentina in 2002 that David Beckham scored, also said England had “got lucky” with the penalty.

Uefa’s appointment of Zwayer was controversial because he was embroiled in a match-fixing scandal earlier in his career.

In 2006, Zwayer admitted taking money from banned referee Robert Hoyzer, who was accused of match-fixing but not of altering the outcome of a game. Zwayer was given a six-month DFB ban, having been one of the officials who brought Hoyzer’s match-fixing plot to light.

England and Netherlands’ history of controversy

Wednesday is not the first time that a refereeing controversy had become a major talking point following a big match between England and Netherlands.

During qualification for the 1994 World Cup, England’s David Platt was infamously denied a clearing scoring opportunity by Koeman, who was mistakenly spared a red card before later striking a match-winning free-kick. Koeman, now the nation’s manager, added his voice to criticism of the penalty decision for Harry Kane on Wednesday. “Football is getting broken with these type of calls by VAR,” Koeman added.

Thanks to Ollie Watkins’ winner in the 90th minute, England have the chance to become European champions for the first time this weekend.


‘VAR was wrong to intervene’

The VAR was wrong to intervene. The referee’s judgement from a good position was correct. There was no foul and therefore no penalty kick should have been awarded.

This was not a clear and obvious error and sadly we see yet again VAR intervention and the referee not sticking with his original decision.

The referee was ideally positioned. VAR should not have intervened.


Starmer and Dutch counterpart watch at Nato meeting

At a Nato summit in Washington, prime minister Kier Starmer watched the penalty alongside his Dutch counterpart Dick Schoof. The pair shared a handshake despite the controversy.

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