Euro 2024: Why England Were Awarded Controversial Penalty vs the Netherlands

Euro 2024: Why England Were Awarded Controversial Penalty vs the Netherlands

  • Harry Kane converted a controversial penalty against the Netherlands as England qualified for Euro 2024 final
  • The Bayern Munich striker was caught by a lingering Denzel Dumfries leg after he had an attempted shot at goal
  • The decision, though extremely harsh, can be explained by what football laws dictate should be given as an offence

Virgil Van Dijk is often called the 'aura man' by a legion of his fans. The towering defender rarely breaks a sweat when swatting opposition attacks. He glides through his work like a Cullinan Rolls Royce.

But after the Euro 2024 semi-final against England, the Dutch skipper was heartbroken and lost for words.

Virgil Van Dijk talks to Felix Zwayer during Euro 2024 semi-final between the Netherlands and England
Netherlands captain Virgil Van Dijk questions referee Felix Zwayer during their Euro 2024 semi-final game against England on July 10, 2024. Photo by Odd Andersen.
Source: Getty Images

Van Dijk had just seen his team concede a late goal from Ollie Watkins that made the Three Lions qualify for the Sunday final at their expense.

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Why England were awarded penalty against the Netherlands

Apart from the devastation of elimination, the Liverpool centre-back also bore visible feelings of anger that he had been robbed. All this stemmed from an incident in the 14th minute when England were awarded a controversial penalty.

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Harry Kane's attempted shot sailed over the bar, but Denzel Dumfries caught him on the follow-through after he had released the ball. Centre referee Felix Zwayer waved off the appeals, only to be summoned by his VAR, Bastian Dankert, to reconsider his stand.

Zwayer eventually awarded the penalty, which Kane duly converted to draw Gareth Southgate's side level, but questions lingered all along about whether it was too harsh a decision.

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What football rules say about dangerous foul play

Football Laws Section 12 on what will be a free-kick or a penalty state that,

"Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone. A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play."

However, the bone of contention was whether Dumfries was well within his right to challenge for the ball. Dankert might have been convinced by the Inter Milan defender going in studs up, which is considered a reckless offence, which explains why he was booked.

The decision also took time before Zwayer was called on the pitchside monitor, with Kane staying on the ground all along in pain. The skipper's captain might have forced the VAR to reexamine the incident.

Who will England face in the Euro 2024 final?

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Dumfries and the rest of the Dutch squad will still not be convinced that it was a clear and obvious error to warrant a penalty.

"It's obvious it should have gone our way. The referees should come in here and explain their decisions," said a distraught Van Dijk to BeIN Sports.

Against all odds, Southgate's charges booked their spot in the Berlin final against a Lamine Yamal-inspired Spain.

Why France and Netherlands won't play in third-place playoff has also explained why there's no third-place playoff at Euro 2024.

Unlike in the World Cup, where losing semi-finalists engage in a match to determine who will win bronze, the European football championships have not had this game since 1980.

This essentially means that we have seen the last of France and the Netherlands in Germany after they lost to Spain and England, respectively.


Martin Moses avatar

Martin Moses Martin Moses is a journalist from the Multimedia University of Kenya (2021). He has practised sports journalism for over five years. He launched his career in media at MMU radio (February 2018-June 2021). Martin also interviewed distinguished sports personalities while at Sports 360 (2020-2022) before joining Sports Brief in April 2022. You can reach out at