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23rd Jun 2019

“Young girls all over the world are watching that behaviour… it’s not right” – Phil Neville

Patrick McCarry

England manager Phil Neville was livid at what he saw was the unsporting behaviour of the Cameroon team during his side’s World Cup victory.

England beat Cameroon 3-0 in Valenciennes but the game was overshadowed by constant interference from the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) team and the irate reactions from several players. Phil Neville was far from happy, despite his side’s win.

The Cameroonians were disgusted at three decisions – two leading to England goals and another that saw them get a goal chalked off – in the space of 47 minutes of the Last 16 encounter.

The match referee and her officials struggled to control the Cameroonians, and the game. After England went 2-0 ahead, the Cameroon team got into a huddle and refused to play on. Some made for the tunnel and others were in tears. The hold-up went on for almost three minutes.

When Cameroon then had VAR rule out a goal that would have made it 2-1, there were more scenes of the referee and her officials being berated and players threatening to walk off.

The goal was struck off and England turned their 2-0 lead into an unassailable 3-0 scoreline. In the final minute of the game, Alexandra Takounda Engolo was lucky that the VAR team only deemed her rash rake down the ankle of Steff Houghton to be a yellow card offence.

Following the game, which saw England advance to the quarter finals, Phil Neville blasted Cameroon in an interview with the BBC. He declared:

“It didn’t feel like football, if I’m going to be honest. I know we get these briefs about coming on TV and just saying, ‘Oh that was a good win’. It was a good win and we played well… but I’ve got to say, that wasn’t football, for me.

“That wasn’t a World Cup ‘Last 16’ in terms of behaviour and what you want to see.

“This [game] is going out worldwide, people are seeing it, and I can’t really say that I enjoyed it. My players didn’t enjoy it. At half-time, they were confused about the actions [of the Cameroon team] and what they should do. They’ve kept their concentration fantastic and they’ve did their job.

“But those images are going out world-wide about how to act. There are young girls that are playing all over the world that are watching that behaviour. For me, that’s not right. And I can’t stand here and say that it’s fantastic, it’s brilliant and we’re into the last eight. There’s a bigger picture here and there’s a certain standard of behaviour that you’ve got to keep. My players did that, and I’m proud.”

Asked if he had any sympathy for Cameroon, Neville replied, “The rules are rules. for the second goal, Ellen White was onside, deal with it.

“We are spoken to by Fifa about 350,000 times and in the end, the referee took pity on them [regarding the challenge on Houghton and a penalty appeal]. They should count their lucky stars that it wasn’t five or six. A team that are refusing to play… I’m proud of my players for playing a game of football.”

There were definitely be repercussions after the unfortunate scenes in Valenciennes, and most sanctions will go towards Cameroon.

England march on, though, and are looking good for a run at the trophy.

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