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VAR review: Was Kane’s penalty correct for England?

We analyse all the VAR decisions made in the 51 matches at Euro 2024. On Wednesday, England were awarded a penalty against the Netherlands for a Denzel Dumfries foul on Harry Kane. Why was it given and was it the right decision?

After each match, we take a look at the most important incidents to examine and explain the process in terms of the VAR protocol and the rules of the game.


Possible penalty: Dumfries foul on Kane

What happened: England went on the attack in the 14th minute when Harry Kane attempted a shot on goal after a ball bounced over the bar. Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries caught it after taking the shot and fell to the ground in pain. Referee Felix Zwayer signalled a goal kick, but it became clear after a few moments that the VAR was reviewing the possibility of a penalty.

VAR Decision: Penalty scored by Kane.

VAR Review: In football, there is an unwritten law that states that if a player manages to shoot at goal and is then intercepted by a defender, there should be no penalty. Why? Mainly because the attacking team cannot lose anything by the challenge: the shot has already been taken and the play is over.

It seems strange, because in this situation we would often say “but that’s a foul anywhere else on the pitch”. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is another unwritten law which states that the threshold is much higher for a penalty than for a shot on goal than for a free kick in an area that is not immediately dangerous.

So how did England get a penalty in this situation?

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

So why has Dankert recommended a penalty? He has interpreted the nature of Dumfries’s challenge, which was to step forward with his studs rather than attempt to kick the ball, as reckless, which is why the Netherlands player was booked. And that is the only aspect in which a defender catching an attacker after a shot can be seen as a penalty, when it is reckless or dangerous.

Do you understand why this could be a penalty? Yes. Does this meet UEFA’s high threshold for a clear and obvious error in a VAR intervention? No. You can only think that Kane’s reaction, falling to the ground in pain, convinced the VAR.

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

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