England had little trouble dispatching Cameroon and advancing to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, but the team’s 3-0 victory on Sunday was marred by emotional outbursts from opposing players.
Cameroon’s players were upset by three calls that went against them: A call by referee Quin Liang that goalkeeper Annette Ngo Ndom picked up an intentional back pass from teammate Augustine Ejangue, leading to an indirect free kick that resulted in England’s first goal; a VAR ruling that overruled an offside call late in the first half and allowed Ellen White’s goal to stand; and another VAR ruling, again regarding offside, that negated a goal by Cameroon’s Ajara Nchout in the second half.
According to the Associated Press, Ejangue was spotted on camera spitting toward England’s Toni Duggan, but she was not penalized for the outburst. Cameroon’s players also remained huddled on the field after White’s goal, delaying the game’s restart, and then continued to huddle and complain to the officials after the halftime whistle. Then, when Nchout’s goal was disallowed after replay, the players again delayed the restart.
Said Cameroon Coach Alain Djeumfa, per the AP: “When you are in a state of shock, occasionally you can lose your cool. There was just a miscarriage of justice.”
Cameroon midfielder Raissa Feudjio, meanwhile, said Djeumfa told his players that the referee was clearly biased toward England.
“We were really disappointed,” she said. “The coach said: ‘Don’t worry, the referee wants England to win today. Don’t worry about this. Your job is to represent your country. So you have to go back out and play.' Some of us really wanted to stop playing completely but we finished the game.”
Phil Neville, England’s manager, was irked by what he saw as an opponent that lost its self-control.
“I have to say that wasn’t football to me. That wasn’t a World Cup last 16 in terms of the behavior,” Neville said. “This is going out worldwide. I can’t stand here and say that I particularly enjoyed it. The players didn’t enjoy it. At halftime they were confused about their actions, about what they should do. The [English] players kept their concentration, but those images are going out worldwide about how to act and young girls playing all over the world are seeing that behavior, and to me it’s not right.
“I can’t stand here and say it’s fantastic or it’s brilliant [as managers are instructed to do by soccer officials]. … There’s a bigger picture here. There has to be a standard of behavior that you’ve got to do. My players did that, and I’m proud.”
Neville was asked if he had any sympathy for Cameroon, and he answered with one word.
“None,” Neville said. “The rules are rules. For the second goal, Ellen White was onside [as determined by VAR], deal with it. We are spoken to by FIFA about 350,000 times, and in the end, the referee took pity on them.
“They should count their lucky stars that it wasn’t five or six [goals]. A team that are refusing to play. … I’m proud of my players for playing a game of football.”
Saying the match “reflected badly not only on African women’s football but African football on the whole,” an official for the Confederation of African Football said Monday that the sport’s governing body on that continent will consider sanctions against the Cameroon women.
“It is an issue which will be addressed and dealt with at the appropriate levels of governance,” Isha Johansen, president of CAF’s women’s committee, said per the AP.
Up next for England is Norway on Thursday.
Read more World Cup coverage from The Post: