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HomeSportsVAR Review: Was Kane's penalty for England vs. Netherlands the correct call?

VAR Review: Was Kane’s penalty for England vs. Netherlands the correct call?



Dale Johnson

We’re analysing every VAR decision made throughout all 51 games at Euro 2024. On Wednesday, England were awarded a penalty against Netherlands for a challenge by Denzel Dumfries on Harry Kane. Why was it given, and was it the correct decision?

After each game, we take a look at the major incidents to examine and explain the process in terms of VAR protocol and the laws of the game.


Possible penalty: Dumfries challenge on Kane

What happened: England were on the attack in the 14th minute with Harry Kane attempting a shot from a bouncing ball, which was hit over the bar. He was caught by Netherlands defender Denzel Dumfries after releasing the shot, and went down in pain. Referee Felix Zwayer pointed for a goal kick, but after a few moments it became clear the VAR was checking for a possible penalty.

VAR decision: Penalty, scored by Kane.

VAR review: There’s an unwritten law in football that if a player manages to complete a shot on goal and is then caught by a defending player, there shouldn’t be a penalty. So why is that? Mainly it’s because the attacking team cannot lose out on anything because of the challenge — the shot has been released and the move is over.

It’s seems odd, because often in this situation we’d say “but that’s a foul anywhere else on the pitch.” But make no mistake, there’s another unwritten law that the threshold is far higher on a penalty providing a shot on goal vs. a free kick in an area that isn’t immediately dangerous.

So, how did England get a penalty in this situation?

It’s a very harsh intervention by the VAR, Bastian Dankert. It’s his ninth game of the tournament, far more than any other video assistant. He has clearly earned a reputation within UEFA as its most trusted VAR throughout the tournament.

So, why has Dankert advised a penalty? He has taken the nature of Dumfries’ challenge, leading with the studs as opposed to making an attempt to kick through the ball, as being reckless — which is why the Netherlands’ player was booked. And that’s the one area where a defender catching an attacker after a shot can be seeing as a penalty — when it’s reckless or dangerous.

Can you see why this might be a penalty? Yes. Does this reach UEFA’s high threshold for a clear and obvious error for a VAR intervention? No. You can only think Kane’s reaction, going down in pain, persuaded the VAR.

And in UEFA competition you will almost never see a VAR intervention rejected at the monitor by the referee.



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