Ex-FIFA referee admits 'surprise' at England's controversial Euro 2024 penalty

Dutch fans are convinced that Bukayo Saka was guilty of a handball in the build-up to England's penalty
-Credit: (Image: Twitter)

A former FIFA official has expressed his surprise at the penalty awarded to England during its Euro 2024 victory over the Netherlands.

Securing its path towards a face-off with Spain on Sunday, England's triumph hinged on a last-minute goal from Ollie Watkins, which followed an initial blip caused by Xavi Simons' early score. Harry Kane's penalty leveled the playing field for the Three Lions before half-time, but the decision to award the penalty was subject to debate.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system was called into action when Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries caught Kane's foot in an attempt to reach a high ball. The referee Felix Zwayer subsequently gave a penalty following a playback of the incident.

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Adding a layer of contention to the matter is the accusation that Arsenal's Bukayo Saka handled the ball prior to the penalty ruling. Supporters are flocking to social media to point out a replay segment that implies Saka's contact with the ball - a detail purportedly overlooked during the VAR assessment.

Adding his doubts to the list, former FIFA referee Jonas Eriksson, who refereed during the 2014 World Cup, cast doubt on the verdict while reviewing the incident on TV, stating: "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 boss Ronald Koeman was critical of the penalty awarded in his post-match comments, remarking: "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."

Dutch defender Dumfries also shared his thoughts on the pivotal moment, saying: "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." says: Virgil van Dijk and the Netherlands will be disappointed with the penalty decision, but it was a difficult call for the referee and VAR to make. Some fans will argue it was a foul, some will suggest otherwise. And it wasn't a handball, as the ball hit Saka's body first before deflecting onto his arm.