Steve Clarke rages at penalty decision and questions Argentinian referee appointment

Scotland's Andrew Robertson and manager Steve Clarke react after exiting the tournament following the UEFA Euro 2024 Group A match at the Stuttgart Arena in Stuttgart, Germany
Steve Clarke and his players were clearly devastated at the final whistle - PA/Martin Rickett

A furious Steve Clarke raged against the decision not to award Scotland a penalty in their tournament-ending loss to Hungary, and then questioned why an Argentinian referee was taking charge of a match at the European Championship.

Scotland conceded the winning goal in the 100th minute of their match in Stuttgart as they chased the win they needed in order to progress from the group stages.

Earlier in the second half, Stuart Armstrong was brought down by Hungary defender Willi Orban in the penalty area. Replays showed there was clear contact on Armstrong’s leg, but referee Facundo Tello was unmoved. Tello was supported by a team of European VAR officials.

“It is 100 per cent a penalty,” Clarke, the Scotland head coach, said. “Somebody somewhere has to explain to me why that is not a penalty. It is 100 per cent. It’s a one-goal game. If we get a penalty, it would be a different night. I have other words but I am not going to use them.

“It is a European competition. It might have been better to have a European referee. But we had a European VAR. Maybe the referee did not see the challenge clearly on the pitch, so what is the purpose of VAR if they are not going to come in on something like that? It is a penalty.”

“You could tell after half an hour that it would be a one-goal game. It is a penalty kick. Why is it not given? I need an answer. I need to know why that is not given. I have got words for it but I like my money.”

David Moyes and Alan Shearer, working as television pundits, both said that it should have been given as a foul.

Referee Facundo Tello
Facundo Tello is the only non-European referee officiating at Euro 2024 - Reuters/Leonhard Simon

“For me, that is a penalty,” Shearer said. “You can see his knee in the back of his calf. Clearly he has taken him down. Armstrong does really well to get his body between him and the ball there.”

Clarke admitted that his team “snatched” at their late chances and suggested that the desperation to find a winner had affected the composure of his players in the final moments.

“We did create some chances,” he said. “A consequence of being under pressure to get the win is that maybe you snatch at it and the ball does not quite fall for us. Sometimes you need the footballing gods to be on our side and they were not on our side tonight.

“It is a cruel game. I understand that. You have to suffer. We suffer with the Tartan Army and with the people back home in Scotland. We all suffer the same. Then you have to lick your wounds, refresh yourself and go again. It can’t be 26 years before we go to another major tournament overseas.”