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UEFA referees' chief: 'England's semi-final penalty award not a scandal'

Raheem Sterling was accused of exaggerating the contact which won his team a crucial spot-kick.

The decision to award England a penalty in the Euro 2020 semi-final against Denmark was "not a scandal", according to UEFA referees' chief Roberto Rosetti.

The Italian said that the VAR agreed with Dutch referee Danny Makkelie that there had been contact between the right leg of Raheem Sterling and Danish defender Joakim Maehle, and had therefore not recommended an on-field review.

Sterling was accused of simulation and of initiating the contact with Maehle. Rosetti agreed that there was an argument to be had about "the intensity of the contact" and had said earlier in the tournament that UEFA did not like soft penalties. However, he felt the decision on Sterling had been reached through the correct procedure.

"It was not a scandal. It is something we can discuss, absolutely," he said.

"The defender didn't play the ball, there was a clear action of the defender, a clear movement of the right leg.

"Danny saw the contact, the clear contact of the right leg against the right leg of Sterling. This is what the referee saw on the field of play. We can discuss about the intensity of the contact, but this is what the referee saw, and this is what the referee told the VAR immediately after.

"The VAR checked the incident and the VAR confirmed the referee decision because the images confirmed what the referee saw on the field of play.

"Penalties are important, and we don't want soft penalties and I want to confirm this also for the future. UEFA wants serious penalties – serious, clear penalties. In this situation there was a clear action of the defender, a clear impact – knee against knee – and the VAR intervention was something very, very, very difficult."

The resultant penalty from Harry Kane was saved, but the Tottenham forward followed up to score from the rebound and take England through to the final.

In that match, there was criticism of referee Bjorn Kuipers and the VAR for not sending off Italy midfielder Jorginho after his studs caught the thigh of England's Jack Grealish.

This Jorginho challenge on Jack Grealish in the final created controversy
This Jorginho challenge on Jack Grealish in the final created controversy (Mike Egerton/PA)

Again, Rosetti said that Kuipers told the VAR he had spotted that Jorginho's foot was initially in contact with the ball, but that it had slipped off and connected with Grealish.

The VAR reviewed the footage and agreed with him.

Rosetti added: "If there was a controversy between what Bjorn saw on the field of play – for instance if the foot had not been on the ball but directly on the leg – and it was clear something different (happened) from what was seen on the field of play, 100 per cent an on-field review could be called."

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