England booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Women’s World Cup with a 3-0 win over Cameroon, but the result was overshadowed by the disgraceful protests of the Cameroon team who felt VAR decisions were going against them.
Some of the scenes witnessed by millions of TV viewers will have undoubtedly damaged the reputation of the women’s game.
Cameroon refused to kick off after England scored despite a VAR check that quite rightly overruled an incorrect offside flag. They then surrounded and screamed at the referee, holding the game up for several more minutes while they held a team huddle, apparently to decide whether they should carry on with the game or not.
It was then reported that players and coaching staff made wild accusations of racism to the match officials and FIFA as they left the pitch at half time, because they felt decisions had gone against them.
In the second half, the chaos continued as several Cameroon players threatened to storm off the pitch again when they had a goal correctly ruled out by VAR.
It was some of the worst, most embarrassing and petulant behaviour ever witnessed at a World Cup and will have done nothing to enhance the reputation of women’s football, especially when it seemed some of the players didn’t seem to understand the offside rule and how VAR is used. Also, to threaten to walk off the pitch because things are going against you makes a mockery of the idea that this is a serious, professional tournament.
Not only was the petulance over decisions unedifying, but some of the tactics and tackles from the Cameroon side were also shocking. Whether Augustine Ejangue was meant to spit on Toni Duggan, only she will know, but Yvonne Leuko knew what she was doing when she smashed her elbow into the face of Nikita Parris. The England winger’s scream on impact could be heard in the stands.
Then, substitute Alexandra Takounda should have been sent off for a rake down the Achilles of Steph Houghton. Cameroon can claim all they want that they were poorly treated by the officials, but they got away with a lot too.
To be knocked out of a World Cup is obviously frustrating and disappointing, especially when decisions that have been reviewed go against you; but you must act with some dignity and professionalism.
So far during this Women’s World Cup there have been accusations of sexism and now racism. This is a worrying precedent for future competitions if nations claim these things because decisions haven’t gone their way.
Whether you are a fan of VAR or not, the reviews got the correct decision. This is what VAR was brought in to do – so to simply dismiss the ruling after it has been reviewed is crazy.
Cameroon should face disciplinary action to avert other nations doing the same, or this could become a regular occurrence. Something that will be damaging for football, be it men’s or women’s.