Hanging Judge: Abuse of ref by Cameroon players was disgraceful

When I was growing up, I was always thought to be respectful to everyone, especially my elders and women.

You know – always allow them to walk in front, open doors for them, escort them to their table and pull out the chair for them. The usual stuff that is associated with being a gentleman.

Well, what I witnessed recently in the Women’s World Cup game between Cameroon and England was nothing short of disgraceful. There was certainly nothing to suggest that some of the Cameroonian players acted terribly.

It all stemmed from decisions made by the referee and the video assistant referee (VAR). Yes, the dreaded VAR had a major part in their displeasure and they didn’t hold back. For those of you who didn’t see it, the events unfolded something like this:

Cameroon had a goal against them disallowed but then reinstated by the VAR before seeing one of their own ruled out. That triggered a furious reaction, with protests and alleged accusations of racism.

Referee Liang Qin from China judged Augustine Ejangue had passed the ball back to her goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom and awarded an indirect free kick, from which England scored their opener.

The fun was only beginning because England got their second, only for a late flag to be realised. England protested and the VAR decided that the assistant was wrong and awarded the goal.

By this time, the Cameroonian players were becoming incensed and tempers were beginning to boil over as it seemed like they were refusing to take the restart. They did and the first half ended soon thereafter.

The start of the second half piled more misery on Cameroon when it appeared they had got one back, only for the VAR to rule it out for offside. Cameroon’s players were now fuming and all hell broke loose. Some say that as many as four red cards should have been issued, but the referee issued none.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the VAR (and one can argue about it until the cows come home), and the decisions of the referee, the behaviour of the Cameroonian players was totally unacceptable.

It’s well documented that there have been crooked referees in the past and perhaps there are still some today, but the referee on the night was, in my opinion, unable to handle the situation.

All she had to do was point to the VAR and use it to justify her decision(s). Instead, she tried the diplomatic approach and it backfired spectacularly.

No referee should be abused the way this woman from China was. No referee, with the exception of one or two, goes out to deliberately deny a team a win, a goal or progress to the next round of a competition.

The VAR has its compensations and its faults. Many words have been written in support of and against it, but it’s here to stay.

As I pointed out last week, it was introduced to bring clarity to contentious decisions and incidents. It’s meant to bring justice where there appears to be injustice.

I agree it shouldn’t take so long to make a decision. I also agree that, sometimes, it appears to go against everything we believe to be true, but the main problem, as I see it, is the new changes to the Fifa laws of the game that came into effect in 2016.

They were not explained to the people who matter – the clubs and countries – and so we have this most unsavoury spectacle that the whole world witnessed last week.

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August 2020

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