Raheem Sterling and Jorginho decisions were right, insists Uefa’s referee chief

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<span>Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

The head of referees at Euro 2020 has defended Danny Makkelie for awarding Raheem Sterling a penalty in England’s semi-final and Bjorn Kuipers’ decision not to send off Italy’s Jorginho for a challenge on Jack Grealish in the final.

Roberto Rosetti backed the calls by showing footage and slides and explaining why VAR had not corrected either. Sterling’s spot-kick came in extra time with England drawing 1-1 with Denmark after Makkelie adjudged Joakim Mæhle to have brought down the forward. Harry Kane’s penalty was saved but he scored the winner from the rebound.

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Rosetti, the Uefa referees’ committee chairman, asserted that there was no attempt by the defender to play the ball and showed a freeze frame of Mæhle’s leg in contact with Sterling’s. The decision was “not a scandal”, he said.

“He [Makkelie] saw red defender No 5 – he didn’t play the ball,” Rosetti said. “The right leg of the defender, Danny saw the contact against the right leg of the white [England] player. This is what the referee saw in the field of play and VAR confirmed the decision: the red 5 defender didn’t touch the ball. We can discuss the intensity of the contact of course but we always want the referee to be at the centre of the decision-making process.”

Rosetti also played audio of the conversation between Makkelie and the VAR officials, with the referee told that the “penalty is correct”.

Raheem Sterling goes down in the semi-final against Denmark.
Raheem Sterling goes down in the semi-final against Denmark. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Jorginho’s challenge on Grealish also came in extra time when the midfielder took the ball but then followed through on the England substitute’s leg. Rosetti explained why Kuipers’ yellow card was suitable, again deploying images.

“He saw Jorginho trying to play the ball – you can see him put his right foot on the ball and this is 100% clear and then the right foot is slipping on the ball and there is a second contact on the leg of the white 7 player. The referee explained to the VAR exactly what he saw on the field of play.

“What is the duty of VAR? To check perfectly what the referee saw. So, for example, if the right foot was not on the ball but directly on the leg then the [decision would be overturned].”

Rosetti stated that the referee can ask for whatever angles and speeds of an incident he wants when using the pitch-side monitor but that at the end the official is always shown it in real-time to counter how slow motion might exaggerate what occurred.

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Rosetti would like VAR used across all European domestic competitions and said statistics at the tournament underlined the system’s success. Of 276 VAR checks 28 corrections were made and all, when reviewed, proved right, he said. Eighteen of these were factual, the majority offsides, and 10 were subjective decisions.

At Euro 2020 1,113 fouls were made across 51 matches at an average of 21.8 per game, lower than at the past four iterations.

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