Cameroon manager Alain Djeumfa made the extraordinary claim that his players were the victims of the ‘miscarriage of justice’ as the referees wanted England to win their World Cup last-16 clash.
Goals from Steph Houghton, Ellen White and Alex Greenwood sealed a 3-0 victory for England in a match marred by Cameroon players stamping, spitting and even appearing to refuse to re-start play after two VAR decisions went against them.
England boss Phil Neville accused Cameroon of ‘shaming’ women’s football but after the game Dejeumfa claimed his side had shown ‘professionalism’.
Instead the Cameroon manager bemoaned a string of decisions by the officials, claiming: ‘Occasionally the referee makes mistakes, but the referee made a lot of mistakes tonight.’
He added: ‘Once we conceded the opening goal in the 14th minute, when there was an indirect free-kick inside the area, that was the wrong decision and then we realised it was slipping away, and then we realised we had to make sure we didn’t concede in the opening 20 minutes.
‘But unfortunately the officials wanted something else.
Djeumfa rejected suggestions that the officials had been racist and he also hit out at accusations that his players had refused to re-start play after White’s goal.
HOW THE DRAMA UNFOLDED…
4 mins: Yvonne Leuko elbowed Nikita Parris in the face before receiving a yellow card.
13 mins: Augustine Ejangue appears to spit at Toni Duggan. The Cameroon player escaped unpunished.
45+4 mins: England awarded second goal from Ellen White by VAR after initially being disallowed.
As half-time whistle blew, Cameroon players remained on pitch, appearing to be considering walking off the field.
Reports claim Cameroon players – some who were in tears – accused FIFA of racism
50 mins: Cameroon have goal ruled out at 2-0 after VAR showed Ajara Nchout to be marginally offside.
68 mins: Jeannette Yango angrily pushes the referee in the back as Kirby runs away with the ball.
79 mins: VAR is consulted as Fran Kirby went down in the penalty area after being caught late by Ysis Sonkeng. The referee decides against a spot-kick.
90+10 mins: VAR gives Alexandra Takounda Engolo only a yellow after a horror challenge on Steph Houghton, catching the England skipper’s heel with her studs.
The first-half strike was initially ruled out for offside, only to be given following a VAR review. Cameroon’s players protested the decision and their frustrations intensified after the break when they saw a goal of their own ruled out by video replays.
‘I think that is wrong. Excuse me, I think that is your feeling,’ he said. ‘The players never stopped and refused to play.
‘I think my players were examples and occasionally, when you are in this state of shock, you can lose your cool.
‘I don’t think the players ever really refused and I think they showed professionalism and I take my hats off to them for that.’
The Cameroon boss could be seen on the touchline calming down his players but he did later admit that he came close to taking them from the field in the last-16 clash.
‘I think we need to remain as teachers,’ he said. ‘We might have had the moment to walk off but thanks to God I was able to remain calm.
‘I knOw what I am like a person but I was able to keep my cool and ultimately there was a lot of passion out there, but I have thank God for keeping me calm.’
Neville, meanwhile, was damning in his assessment of Cameroon’s performance, claiming: ‘We’ve had seven million people watching us playing an international game against Cameroon with that behaviour.
‘I think it’s pretty sad. That’s how I felt on the touchline. Their team mirrored their manager. If my team played like that they would never play for England again.’
What have you made of the whole World Cup campaign as a whole?
It’s perhaps a little bit too early in the day to assess things right away. I’m going to try and be as calm as possible and try and look at the positives as well as the negatives, which have prevented us from going through.
We’re going to try and work on all of this for future tournaments.
Do you feel the refereeing decisions and particularly VAR went against you?
I don’t know what you felt as a journalist but perhaps you agree with what I saw.
At the end of the match did you feel any feelings of frustration?
Once we conceded the opening goal in the 14th minute, when there was an indirect free-kick inside the area, that was the wrong decision and then we realised it was slipping away, and then we realised we had to make sure we didn’t concede in the opening 20 minutes.
But unfortunately the officials wanted something else.
But from that moment on, the girls perhaps just lost a bit of temper. But I think we need to take our hat off to the girls, despite the refereeing mistake, for their performance.
But yes of course I’m frustrated. But as I said, football is all about fair play. We showed fair play. It’s football.
You say perhaps you agree with what I saw… I saw a team that lost control. I saw a team that shamed football. I saw a team that refused to accept clear and decisive refereeing decisions and a team that should have had players sent off. What did you see?
I don’t think I can comment on your thoughts on the game.
I respect your thoughts on the game but I shan’t comment on that.
After all of these refereeing mistakes we saw that you supported your girls and tried to keep them playing… It was a miscarriage of justice, don’t you feel?
We need to remain as teachers, first and foremost.
Yes, we might have had the moment to walk off, but thanks to God I was able to remain calm. I was ultimately able to keep my cool.
Ultimately there was a lot of passion out there but I have to thank God for keeping me calm.
There was a report that you said racism was at the heart of this, is that right?
No, no, no, I just said it was a miscarriage of justice, but I won’t got any further than that.
Why should I talk about anything else?
This is football. It’s a game.
Occasionally referees make mistakes, but ultimately the referee made a lot of mistakes tonight.
Can you tell us what mistakes you thought the referee made please?
I don’t necessarily… I’m not able to explain this. You can watch the match back and identify them if you review the game.
Did you order your players not to come through the mixed zone? Why did they not?
No the players did go through. They were all there and they all answered questions.
They didn’t. Fifa talked about inspiring a new generation of fans… Do you feel your players are bad role models?
I think that’s wrong. Excuse me, I think that’s your feeling that your players never refused to play.
Ultimately I don’t think we ever stopped and refused to play. Ultimately my players were examples.
And occasionally when you are in this state of shock you can lose your cool but I don’t think the players ever refused to play the game.
They showed professionalism and I need to take my hat off to them for that.
What were your players unhappy about with Ellen White’s goal? And Phil Neville says this game didn’t feel like football – did it?
We all saw the match. It’s pointless raking over old graves.
Everyone can believe what they think.
Ultimately the game is over and everyone saw the match. I’m a little bit disappointed but everyone has their opinion on this.
Would you change anything, are you proud of how your players acted?
We prepared to win the game. When you saw the start of the game, and ultimately the game as a whole, we responded well.
Unfortunately we had a goal disallowed and if we had halved the deficit I really believe there would have been a different result come the end of the game if that goal had been allowed.