Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman had some harsh words regarding video assistant referee (VAR) following his team’s Euro 2024 loss against England. The main point of contention in the match came as Koeman’s side had an early 1-0 lead. Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries attempted to block a shot by England striker Harry Kane in the 17th minute.

While the ball flew well over the crossbar, Kane immediately went down writhing in pain after making contact with Dumfries. Match referee Felix Zwayer initially denied the penalty claims on the pitch. Replays, however, showed that the Dutchman’s foot did make contact with the English forward. As a result, VAR officials intervened and asked Zwayer to take another look at the incident on the pitchside monitor.

The referee then reversed his on-field decision and awarded England with a penalty. Kane miraculously recovered following the big call, stepped up, and converted the spot kick. England eventually scored the winning goal late in the game from second-half substitute Ollie Watkins. The Three Lions will next face Spain on Sunday, July 14th for the European title.

Dutch coach and captain both left frustrated over controversial call

Although Dumfries and Kane connected cleats in the aforementioned play, VAR’s decision to intervene has been widely criticized. Not only was the reversal highly controversial, but a replay from a different angle also suggested that Bukayo Saka controlled the ball with his arm before Kane took the shot. VAR officials somehow overlooked the potential infraction.

After the disappointing defeat, Koeman voiced his concerns regarding the technology. “I didn’t think it was a penalty,” the coach told reporters during a press conference. “This was really another decision by the VAR. What should you do as a defender? Denzel tries to block the ball and Kane shoots and then hits Dumfries’ shoe with his shoe. Football is really destroyed by such decisions by a video referee.”

Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk echoed his coach’s feelings on the incident. The defender also suggested that Zwayer’s postgame antics showed that the referee knew he made a mistake. “I think it says it all that the referee went in [to the dressing room] quite quickly after the game,” Van Dijk told beIN Sports. “I had no time to shake his hand. But listen, it is what it is. The game is done. We lost and it’s very tough to take certain moments.”

Hiring Zwayer is a bigger problem than VAR at Euro 2024

VAR is undoubtedly one of the most polarizing topics among soccer fans, coaches, and players. Many involved in the sport agree with Koeman regarding the technology. Taking several slow-motion replay looks at a particular play can make incidents seem more troublesome than originally thought.

This particular point was made during the Dumfries/Kane incident. FOX rules analyst, and former referee, Mark Clattenburg, immediately claimed that the contact was not sufficient enough for a penalty during the telecast. Nevertheless, Clattenburg then changed his mind after seemingly seeing additional replays and knowing that VAR was set to intervene.

Wednesday’s controversy was not the first time that Koeman has ridiculed the use of VAR at Euro 2024. The Dutchman also heavily criticized an offside call against Dumfries during his team’s Group D matchup against France on June 21st. The game eventually finished scoreless.

Despite the controversial calls, VAR earned mostly praise from fans throughout the tournament. Perhaps a bigger issue than video replay was UEFA even hiring Zwayer in the first place. The German referee previously served a six-month ban for accepting bribes. German officials charged him with match-fixing back in 2005. The decision to use Zwayer in such a major competition met wide backlash.


Euro 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Euros!
Euro Bracket: Download a free PDF bracket for the tournament
Euro 2024 Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Euro games live in 2024
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer