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Felix Zwayer’s penalty: outrage folklore as an end in itself

Felix Zwayer’s penalty: outrage folklore as an end in itself
Felix Zwayer’s penalty: outrage folklore as an end in itself

Referee Felix Zwayer awarded a penalty for England in the European Championship semi-final. This was followed by criticism from experts and players – unjustly. Unfortunately, the folklore of outrage is too often an end in itself.

As a referee, you are basically the poorest bastard. Nobody knows this better than the people involved. Referees are constantly subjected to criticism. Players, coaches, experts, fans – everyone knows better. The most recent example: the penalty decision by the German referee Felix Zwayer in the European Championship semi-final between England and the Netherlands. Zwayer initially did not consider the action by the Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries against Harry Kane to be a foul. Dumfries had blocked a shot attempt by the English attacker with an open sole. Then the VAR intervened, Zwayer looked at the controversial scene on the monitor and awarded a penalty – and quite rightly so. It was a clear foul.

After the final whistle, the usual folklore of outrage unfolded. It is understandable that Dutch professionals such as captain Virgil van Dijk and coach Ronald Koeman complained about Zwayer’s decision after the 1:2 defeat. More dubious are statements such as those made by former Dutch international Pierre van Hooijdonk. He called for Zwayer to be put on a “blacklist”. Even English TV experts spoke up: former international Gary Neville called the whistle a “disgrace”.

Penalty whistle by Felix Zwayer: The argument about it is as old as football itself

Former German referee Manuel Gräfe, who had warned against using Zwayer before the game (but for other reasons), was similarly harsh in his judgment. Gräfe saw his views fully vindicated and accused his former colleague of incompetence. It is important to note that Gräfe has been in dispute with the DFB since an involuntary retirement due to reaching the age limit in 2021 and is suing the association. Since then, his main occupation has been to criticize his former colleagues as a kind of fundamental critic.

Now the excitement surrounding such decisions is as old as football itself. In other cases, well-founded debates can actually be held. The unpunished handball by Spaniard Marc Cucurella in the quarter-final against Germany is one such example. No matter how you look at the matter, the heated debate is based on the vague handball rule, which allows a lot of room for interpretation and thus provides many reasons for serious arguments.

In the case of Dumfries, things are different. The facts are clear, the penalty decision was correct. The offender himself left no doubt about that. “There was contact with Kane, so we know that the referee can award the penalty,” said Dumfries after the game. This exposes the criticism of self-proclaimed experts for what it really is: pure self-serving. Unfortunately, this is extremely annoying.

Source: Stern

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