On July 7, England and Denmark battled in a Euro 2020 semifinal. England emerged as winners, but the ending drew much controversy, especially as it was played on English soil in London at the famous Wembley Stadium.
After the 90 minutes of regulation time ended 1-1, the game progressed into extra time. It was then, in the 104th minute, when England drew a penalty. Striker Harry Kane missed the initial shot but finished off the rebound, essentially securing the win for England.
Many, including Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite, criticized the penalty decision. However, he chose his words wisely to avoid fines or other potential punishments from UEFA.
“We have to swallow that. We are proud, but also incredibly disappointed by the way it happened. I don’t think it was entirely fair, but I have to be careful what I say. There is no one to blame, there was no penalty and it was judged with a bit of toughness.”Martin Braithwaite
Fans and players alike viewed the decision with much doubt as the VAR replay seemed to show barely any contact on winger Raheem Sterling, who drew the decisive penalty. Even more shocking was the referee’s inability to notice the lack of contact that many others saw.
In the highlights after, Sterling appeared to topple over from almost no contact. However, the roar of 52,000 English fans indicated that they did not care. A goal is a goal.
The controversy didn’t end there as the Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had lasers pointed at his eyes during the spot-kick. Miraculously, he managed to save the initial shot before an unfortunate rebound fell to Harry Kane on a plate. Kane’s tap-in proved to be the winner at the match’s end.
Fairly enough, UEFA opened an investigation into punishing the English FA over the laser pointers. Not only were they dangerous, but they also posed an unfair advantage.
England now finds itself in the tournament’s final, where they take on Italy on July 11. “The Three Lions” entered as one of the favorites, but no one expected a path as controversial as this one.