England beat Cameroon 3-0 to advance to the women’s World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday in a match marred by remarkable scenes as the African side twice reacted furiously to video assistant referee (VAR) decisions that went against them with the referee seemingly unable to gain any control.
After England’s second goal by Ellen White at the end of the first half was initially ruled out for offside then, rightly, allowed via VAR, several Cameroon players remonstrated with the referee and furiously pointed to the screen in the stadium which showed the replay.
Cameroon then thought they had pulled a goal back, only for VAR to rule against them for a marginal offside - sparking more chaotic scenes. Instead of taking firm action to force the players to restart, Chinese referee Qin Liang took an age, speaking gently to them, before their coach persuaded them to kick off. VAR replays are not shown on big screens inside the stadium though “normal” replays were, some of which clearly seemed to indicate to the Cameroon players that they were being treated unjustly.
The game then turned ugly with strong challenges, an accusation of spitting and, in the final act, a horrific tackle on England’s Steph Houghton that, belatedly and again via VAR, earned Alexandra Takounda a yellow card when it looked a clear red card offense.
Furious England coach Phil Neville said what he had seen was “not football.”
“I came to this World Cup to be successful and to play a part in making women’s football globally more visible. We wanted to put on a show,” he said. “I sat through 90 minutes of football there and felt ashamed. I was proud of performances, under circumstances I’ve never seen before. And I am completely and utterly ashamed of the opposition.
“I didn’t enjoy the game. My players didn’t enjoy the game, apart from getting to the quarter-finals.
As an African, I am waiting from Cameroonian perspective:
The head of women's soccer in Africa wants Cameroon to face punishment for the conduct of players in their Women's World Cup loss to England.
The Cameroon team rebelled against three officiating decisions in a 3-0 loss to England in the round of 16 on Sunday. After the game, Cameroon manager Alain Djeumfa accused officials of a "miscarriage of justice."
Isha Johansen, who sits on the Confederation of African Football executive committee and is president of the women's soccer body, says she is "proud of our African female teams" in the tournament.
But Johansen believes the game "reflected badly not only on African women's football but African football on the whole" and wants punishments imposed.
"It is an issue which will be addressed and dealt with at the appropriate levels of governance," she added on Monday.
According to the official from Sierra Leone, the CAF should take action even if FIFA doesn't pursue a case against the Cameroon team.
As Cameroon players seethed and wept at times on the field, there was at least one high-profile advocate of their behavior: the head of the FIFA administration.
FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura tweeted that the Cameroon players "inspired many young girls,'' with "passionate and talented play on the field that made your fans proud and your country is proud of you.''
The view from the Confederation of African Football was very different. But Samoura endorsed the conduct of players who openly undermined the authority of referee Quin Liang by forcing delays to restarts as they huddled to protest against England goals.
The loss was marked by three decisions that Cameroon felt were unjust, with two involving the video assistant referee (VAR). The first incident was a call by Liang to award England an indirect free kick for a back pass in the 13th minute that led to Steph Houghton's opening goal.
Ellen White gave England a 2-0 lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with a goal awarded after an offside call was correctly overruled by the VAR. Cameroon vehemently protested the call, having seen it replayed on the video screen.
Rather than immediately restarting play after the goal, the Cameroon players all gathered together in a huddle and spoke to each other for a few minutes before finally taking the kickoff.
Cameroon players were angered again at the start of the second half when Ajara Nchout's goal was denied because of another VAR review for offside. Cameroon's players came to the touchline and were visibly upset at the call, and play was temporarily halted again.
ESPN's Tom Hamilton and The Associated Press contributed to this report.