Euro 2024: Ex-FIFA referee reveals new reason why England penalty was wrong decision | Football


Netherlands players were furious with referee Felix Zwayer in their Euro 2024 semi final against England (Soccrates/Getty)

England’s controversial penalty in their Euro 2024 semi-final win against the Netherlands should not have been given, according to a former FIFA referee.

Gareth Southgate’s side are through to their second consecutive final of the European Championship after they beat the Netherlands 2-1 on Wednesday evening.

The Netherlands took an early lead in the seventh minute through Xavi Simons’ superb long-range effort but England were handed the chance to equalise following a generous penalty decision.

Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries attempted to block Harry Kane’s shot but was punished for clipping the England captain with his foot. VAR reviewed the incident and after re-watching the footage on the pitch-side monitor, referee Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot.

Kane stepped up to score which pulled England level and the game appeared to be heading to extra time and potentially another penalty shootout before Ollie Watkins’ brilliant low finish in the 90th minute sealed a last-gasp win for the Three Lions, who now play Spain in the Euro 2024 final on Sunday.

The Dutch players were furious with Zwayer’s decision to award England a penalty but in his post-match analysis for Swedish broadcaster SVT Sports, former FIFA referee Jonas Eriksson says a crucial infringement was missed moments before Dumfries caught Kane’s foot with his attempted block.

Bukayo Saka’s handball went unpunished moments before England’s penalty award (ITV)

Eriksson, who officiated at the 2014 World Cup and was in charge of Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup final in 2013 and Liverpool’s Europa League final in 2016, pointed out that England winger Bukayo Saka handled the ball before the challenge which resulted in the penalty against the Netherlands.

Television replays have shown that the ball did bounce up and connect with Saka’s hand before it fell into Kane’s path for his shot at goal, and Eriksson believes VAR should have intervened to deny England a penalty.

‘Here, I am surprised that they don’t go and look and overturn the penalty,’ Eriksson said during his analysis.

‘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.’

Denzel Dumfries gave away a penalty for a foul on Harry Kane (AMA/Getty)

Speaking after he was penalised for blocking Kane’s shot, Dumfries told Dutch broadcaster NOS: ‘It was difficult. At that penalty moment the ball just fell in between and I wanted to block the shot, so I just hit it.

‘There was contact, so at that moment you know he can give it. Really disappointing. I take responsibility for that.

‘You don’t do it on purpose, but it was in a split second.’

During his half-time analysis for ITV, former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville called the penalty call a ‘disgrace’.

‘Look, as a defender, I think it’s an absolute disgrace. It’s an absolute disgraceful decision, that,’ Neville said.

‘To have that given against me as a penalty, at any time, but in a game of such importance.

‘I was fuming with the one the other week, the Denmark one, the handball, that was a disgrace as well. I was offended by that one.

‘I have to say, he just goes in to try and block the shot. It’s not a penalty, for me. It’s nowhere near a penalty and I have say, I don’t think there weren’t many England players claiming for it either.

‘Harry stayed down, he got a little bit of a tap on his foot, but it’s never a penalty for me.

‘Obviously you take your luck. England have played really well in that first half.’

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