Cameroon ‘disgraces’ football in day of drama

Distraught: Ajara Nchout was comforted by her team mates when her goal was disallowed.

Was it great entertainment or just terrible football? England’s 3-0 win over the West African side was overshadowed by chaos, as Cameroon’s players twice threatened to walk off the pitch.

They call it “the beautiful game”. But when England met Cameroon in the Women’s World Cup round of 16 on Sunday, things quickly turned ugly.

Cameroon’s vigorous defending saw England forward Nikita Parris floored by an elbow to the face, while captain Steph Houghton was put out of action by a late tackle from Alexandra Takounda. Both fouls resulted in yellow cards. In another heated moment, Cameroon’s Augustine Ejangue appeared to spit on Toni Duggan.

But the most extraordinary scenes were yet to come, when two big VAR decisions went against Cameroon.

As the first half drew to a close, an off-side call was reversed on Ellie White’s goal, putting England two goals ahead. When the decision was announced, Cameroon’s players exploded in fury, clustering around referee Qin Liang and refusing to restart the match.

After a delay of several minutes, the players were eventually ushered off for half-time by their manager Alain Djeumfa. The Stade de Hainault rang with boos from the unimpressed crowd.

In the second half, a goal for Cameroon that would have made it 2-1 was disallowed. Cue more carnage as striker Ajara Nchout, who had scored the goal, fell to her knees and sobbed. The Lionesses looked on in confusion as the Cameroonians argued amongst themselves about whether to continue playing.

It was first time since 1982 that a World Cup game has come close to being abandoned.

“I’m completely and utterly ashamed of the opposition,” seethed England’s manager Phil Neville after the match. “Young girls playing all over the world are seeing that behaviour.”

“I didn’t enjoy the game. The players didn’t enjoy it,” he concluded.

But Djeumfa is defiant about his team’s conduct, insisting that they “showed fair play”. He has accused the referee of favouring England, despite commentators like The Telegraph’s Keith Hackett agreeing that Cameroon was lucky to dodge multiple red cards.

Not everyone was damning of the drama. The BBC called it: “The World Cup game that had everything.” One viewer said that it was “a very entertaining game, but for the wrong reasons”.

Passion or petulance?

Was this a great game or just terrible football? Surely, no one can deny that it was entertaining. Be honest: wouldn’t you rather see scenes of tears, tantrums and high drama than a dull 0-0 draw? It is the same guilty pleasure that makes tennis fans relish the antics of John McEnroe and Nick Kyrgios. If sport is about passion and spectacle, this game had both in spades.

But isn’t sportsmanship and fair play at the heart of all sport? Cameroon’s conduct was a time-wasting embarrassment that distracted from England’s achievement in reaching the quarter-finals. Neville is right: it has no place on the football field.

You Decide

  1. Will England win the Women’s World Cup?
  2. Was England vs Cameroon a great game of football?

Activities

  1. Draw a table with your predictions for teams reaching the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. Who do you predict to win the Women’s World Cup?
  2. Watch the highlights from the match and record your own commentary in the style of football commentators.

Some People Say...

“Victory is in the quality of the competition, not just the final score.”

Mike Marshall, baseball player

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
A record 6.9 million UK viewers watched England beat Cameroon on Sunday. This was the largest British audience for a women’s football game ever, beating a record set by this year’s opening game against Scotland. England’s next game is a quarter-final tie against Norway at 8pm on Thursday, in which the Lionesses are firm favourites.
What do we not know?
Who will win the World Cup. England is currently third favourites behind defending champions, USA, and hosts, France. Despite the drama on Sunday, England manager Phil Neville praised his side for maintaining their focus and “playing with pride”.

Word Watch

Round of 16
The first knock-out stage, which precedes the quarter-finals.
Out of action
She has an ankle injury and may miss the Lionesses’ match against Norway on Thursday.
Spit
Duggan said that she did not believe there was any malice or intent in the incident.
VAR
Video Assistant Referee. When the referee makes a mistake, they can be overruled using video replays.
Off-side
A player is offside if, when their team mate passes them the ball, they are nearer to the opposition’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last defender (including the goal keeper).
1982
Kuwait refused to play for a number of minutes after France scored a fourth goal. The goal was eventually disallowed, but France scored again and won 4-1.
John McEnroe and Nick Kyrgios
McEnroe famously shouted, “You cannot be serious!” when his serve was ruled out by the umpire in 1981. Just this week, Australian player Kyrgios was fined £14,000 for throwing his racket out of the stands after losing.