Unfortunately, it’s not been the football that has dominated the post-match narrative from England’s 3-0 triumph over Cameroon last night — despite FIFA’s sanitized official highlights — as one of the highest ranked nations at the Women’s World Cup took care of the lowest. On the surface of it, the 3-0 win looks like a solid, straightforward result, but it was a match that will probably be remembered more for all the shenanigans rather than the football on display.
Then again, it’s not often that a team stages a mini-strike mid-match and refuses to restart proceedings after (what turns out to be a quite correct) refereeing decision. But that’s precisely what happened after Ellen White doubled England’s lead just before half-time, with Cameroon convinced she was offside but VAR making it quite clear that she wasn’t. England had taken the lead earlier on a rarely seen indirect free-kick that was awarded for a back pass, to set the tone for the weird drama to follow later.
Cameroon’s mood certainly didn’t improve when they took advantage of some lax England defending and got a goal back just after the restart, but VAR ruled against them again, as the winger’s foot was fractionally off. It was one of those incredibly borderline decisions that you very much would like to see given as advantage to the attacking team, but instead the common sense concept of “being level” was once again ignored. Alas, the rules are silly, and the spirit of the laws not taken into account, just as in the case of the re-taken penalty in the Scotland match last week.
As the levels of frustration became more and more palpable, the physicality cranked up a notch and the tackles (and elbows, and at one point, what looked like spit, even) started flying in with greater frequency, England still managed to keep their cool, and even added a third from a corner. Chelsea’s Fran Kirby, who played the full game (as did center back Millie Bright), should’ve been awarded a penalty towards the end, too, but the referee waved play on despite yet another VAR review.
She probably just wanted to be done with the whole thing by then.
England thus advance to the quarterfinals, where they will meet Norway and their Chelsea trio of Maren Mjelde, Maria Thorisdottir, and Guro Reiten.
In the other match of the day at the Women’s World Cup of VAR yesterday, host-nation France edged past Brazil in extra-time, 2-1.