England bowing out at the semi-final stage of the World Cup to Croatia was a tough pill to swallow, there’s also a section of fans who think the Croatian team should be disqualified from the final.
Now, before we go ahead let me just put it out there – I do not hold any belief Croatia should be kicked out of the tournament. That is not a cross I’m willing to die on.
I can admit when my team has been beaten by a superior team. On Wednesday night July 11 – despite leaving all they had on the pitch – Gareth Southgate’s men were beaten 2-1 by the better side, Croatia deserved to go through to the final. End of story. But some fans just won’t let it go.
Despite taking the lead early on in the first half, via a Kieron Trippier free kick, the Three Lions were taken to the limit after Ivan Perisic equalised in the second half, bringing the game into extra time. Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic sealed their fate in the second half of extra time to send Croatia to the finals.
It’s a defeat which I could accept and at least we didn’t go out on penalties, but a vocal section of supporters want Croatia disqualified from the tournament. Furthermore, ‘World Cup Croatia disqualified’ quickly became the most search term on Google in the United Kingdom after last Wednesday’s game, according to The Mirror
Here are the three main reasons which fans have nitpicked to try and get Croatia disqualified:
1. Rebic was shown two yellow cards but wasn’t sent off
Cast your mind back to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Croatia versus Australia. It was in that match English referee Graham Poll made the comical error of showing Josip Šimunić three yellow cards before sending him off. Hilarious as it was, it also highlighted the ineptitude of refereeing in the English league at the time. It was probably the reason why there are no FA referees in Russia this year – but that’s a spurious theory for another time.
It was thought history had repeated itself again when Ante Rebic was booked in the first-half of extra-time. Many thought he’d already been shown a yellow in the 48th minute and therefore should have been sent off.
Broadcasters made it look like he had been booked twice but Rebic continued to play on.
The truth was a VAR review (Alan Shearer’s favourite topic at this tournament) was shown to a Croatian player, but it was given to goalscorer Mandzukic for throwing the ball away.
2. Domagoj Vida should not have been allowed to play
So this one can appear a little more contentious, FIFA – along with each nation’s governing bodies – are adamant the game not be used as a way to promote political messages or agendas (lol). However, Domagoj Vida caused controversy after Croatia knocked-out host nation Russia with a ‘Glory to Ukraine’ celebration.
The Croatian defender who scored for his country in the penalty shoot-out against Russia filmed himself with scout Ognjen Vukojevic celebrating in the dressing room after the match, chanting ‘Glory to Ukraine’, a chant of the Ukrainian army and the nationalist cause that is opposed to Russian territorial claims on the country.
Vukojevic was sacked by Croatia for the gesture but Vida has yet to be reprimanded. FIFA found no issue with Vida’s celebrations and any disciplinary actions would be left up to the discretion of the Croatian FA.
3. The Referee
Oh, that old chestnut. When all else fails, blame the ref, or as most like to refer to them as: ‘the [delete expletive] in the black’.
England fans questioned Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s officiating of Wednesday’s semi-final, the main frustration being he failed to show a yellow card to Liverpool defender Dejan Lovran. Particularly for the hard challenges on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling.
Fans also took issue with Croatia’s equaliser, complaining Perisic’s goal shouldn’t have stood because of a high boot.
To be fair the referees in this tournament have kept a low profile, but of course, there’s going to be a few dodgy decisions which will rub fans the wrong way.
Can’t please everyone, I guess. And that’s football.
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