The Football Association has submitted a report to FIFA questioning the apparently inconsistent penalty decisions during England‘s opening game against Iran, a 6-2 victory.
During the game, centre-back Harry Maguire was denied an early penalty after what looked like a clear foul, with the Manchester United defender wrestled to the ground while attacking a corner.
Later on in the contest, Iran were awarded a penalty for what appeared to be a less obvious infringement committed by John Stones.
After the match, manager Gareth Southgate admitted he was concerned about England appearing in a pre-tournament referee briefing, where a clip of Maguire scoring from a corner was used.
FIFA referees’ committee chairman Pierluigi Collina used the goal to highlight Kalvin Phillips’ blocking of an opposition player to create the scoring opportunity, explaining that such a goal would now be outlawed at the 2022 World Cup.
“We put a report in. We haven’t heard anything back as yet,” Southgate said.
“There was obviously a penalty given the next afternoon, so whether that was a consequence of our game being reviewed by the referees or not, it’s hard to say.”
Southgate is referring to the penalty scored by Lionel Messi against Saudi Arabia the following day, which was again given due to another off-the-ball foul during a corner.
“The concern is the consistency. We know what we’ve got to do right and we know we risk being punished for certain things,” he added.
“I think for all the teams in the tournament, there is a worry when you’re not quite sure what’s going to be given and also that uncertainty on the field and from the VAR as well.”
Stones, the Manchester City defender who committed the foul for Iran’s penalty, said he was confused by the decisions. He also believes he was fouled from the same corner as Maguire and had a case for a penalty himself, such was the physicality of the Iranian defending.
“I don’t know what that VAR thought process was,” Stones explained. “I know that Harry got kind of highlighted in that first kind of instance, but I’m not one for going down and I was straight up appealing for a penalty. I didn’t even realise that Harry had been having the same thing.”
Stones also believes the penalty given against him for a shirt pull was soft.
“Looking at it after, I’m a bit baffled that nothing had been called and then was for something that, in my opinion, was never, ever, ever a penalty.”
“I’m not one for conceding silly fouls or things like that and I don’t believe that, with the amount of jostling that goes on in a box, a little pull of the shirt makes someone’s knees buckle and go over,” he said.
Like his manager, Stones expressed his disappointment at the perceived inconsistency between the decisions and also referred to the pre-tournament referee meeting.
“But there has got to be some sort of consistency to it,” he said. “It’s hard to know what someone’s thought process is because we got sat in a refereeing meeting before the tournament and got told certain things and I think our frustration is when those don’t get backed up.”