England’s round of 16 clash descended into farce after two VAR decisions went against the African side at the Women’s World Cup
England’s World Cup round of 16 clash with Cameroon descended into chaos on Sunday after two VAR decisions went against the African side.
With the game poised at 2-0 to the Lionesses, some Cameroon players could be seen in tears after Ajara Nchout’s goal early in the second-half was ruled out for an offside in the build-up.
Gabrielle Onguene was deemed to be in an offside position when she was played in, and the VAR team’s intervention was met with fury and frustration on the Cameroon bench.
Captain Gabrielle Onguene and coach Alain Djeufmadid did their best to calm the situation, but Nchout was clearly bereft, and was seen in tears with her head in her hands as her team-mates gathered on the touchline.
Play eventually resumed to loud boos and whistles from the stands at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes.
Earlier in the tie, in the lead up to half-time, Cameroon’s players were equally appalled following a VAR decision that led to England’s second goal of the game.
Ellen White was originally deemed to be in an offside position before she received a pass from Lucy Bronze and placed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Cameroon World Cup 2019
Officials immediately disallowed the goal, but VAR intervened to confirm the goal was perfectly legal and England’s lead was doubled as the interval approached.
The decision provoked a furious response from the Cameroon players – especially once they had glanced up at a replay of the incident on the in-stadium display screens.
The entire starting XI gathered in conversation close to the centre circle before the game was restarted, and there was a suggestion at half-time that some players had accused FIFA of racism in the tunnel.
At the time, former England goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis said: “There’s a lot of emotion. If Cameroon take the emotion out of it, they will realise the goal is onside.
“The freeze-frame was up on the screen inside the ground for about three seconds. Whatever Cameroon’s players saw, they took judgment on it.
“I thought they were going to all sit in the centre-circle.”
England manager Phil Neville’s scathing post-game interview blasted the Cameroon squad for their awful behaviour.
“It didn’t feel like football. I know we get these briefs about coming on TV and saying it was a good game, but that wasn’t a last-16 tie in terms of behaviour from footballers. This is going out worldwide
“I didn’t enjoy it, the players didn’t enjoy it and my players kept their concentration, but those images are going out worldwide and young girls are seeing that behaviour and it’s not right.”
However, Cameroon’s manager was obviously watching a different game after claiming that every decision was wrong in his post-match press conference.
Speaking in the aftermath of the dramatic last 16 tie, Alain Djeumfa pulled no punches as he lumped the blame on the referee and VAR.
“It was a miscarriage of justice. Why should I talk about anything other than that?
“Unfortunately it seems like the officials wanted something else and from that point on [the first goal] maybe the girls lost their tempers a bit.
“Of course I am frustrated but in the end, football is all about fair play and we showed fair play.
“Occasionally the referee makes mistakes but ultimately, the referee made a lot of mistakes tonight.”
You can see his full post-match conference here.
In truth, Djeumfa did very little to try and control his players throughout the match and may have even fanned the flames at times.
It was an embarrassing spectacle and Djeumfa’s refusal to acknowledge his players’ behaviour only brings it into further disrepute.
England are through in the end, but it was not a day to be remembered.