German media cry foul over alleged handball by England women’s team

As the German football team licks their wounds following their defeat at Wembley, at least some of the disappointment is being channelled into speculation as to whether the team was fairly treated, even maybe defrauded out of victory. In particular there is discussion over whether the referees overlooked what is being referred to as a “clear case of handball” in the 25th minute of the match. The tabloid Bild, for one, is furious. Under the headline: Anger over the Scandal Referees, the paper writes, it was “clear to see that the England player, Leah Williamson played the ball at shoulder height, with her hand”.

It accuses the referee Kateryna Monzul, of failing to view it as a handball, while the video referees, Paolo Valeri and Pol van Bockel, came to the joint conclusion that it was not a punishable move, “So they did not even check the scene!” Bild declares.

The tabloid confronted Monzul about her decision after the match, with the question: “What happened in the 25th minute with England’s handball?” Monzul, it said, “shrugged her shoulders and stretched her arms out wide in an apologetic way and left. No explanation.”

The tabloid then proceeded to confront Valeri after the end of the match in the mixed zone. His response, it said, was: “Non posso dire niente, mi dispiace” – or “I can’t say anything, I’m sorry”. Bild interprets this more bluntly in German as: “Sorry, I’ve been muzzled.”

Later in a widely broadcast media interview, Germany’s trainer, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, was also critical of the decision: “At this level in a final of the European Championships something like this should not happen,” she said. “I would like for there to be a discussion about this. But what I don’t want is that it is overlooked.”

In a separate commentary, Bild goes so far as to compare what it calls the “fraudulent” outcome with the Wembley defeat of Germany’s men to England at the 1966 World Cup: “Germany is crying with our football women, and is annoyed about this new Wembley fraud! With this 1:2 defeat after an extension, we have been defrauded again almost 56 years after the scandal around the Wembley goal,” it writes.

Spiegel referred to the “commotion which reigned in connection with a handball” which it said might have turned the game in Germany’s favour. It quoted Voss-Tecklenburg as graciously saying that while Germany should have been granted a penalty kick, in her opinion, England was a worthy victor after the 120-minute match. “They played themselves into the hearts of many people,” she said.

Die Zeit said it was clear that the match “could have ended differently, had the referee recognised Leah Williamson’s handball in the 25th minute. According to the rulebook it should have led to a penalty kick, maybe even a red card. But neither the referee who is anyway normally rather overwhelmed, nor her video assistants wanted to admit they had seen anything. Which led to quite a discussion afterwards”.

Meanwhile, Germany is unsurprisingly already looking to next year’s World Cup to get its revenge.