Denmark blast VAR for deciding Germany game

DORTMUND, Germany — Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand hit out at “ridiculous handball rules” and said “this is not how football should be” after two VAR decisions in the space of two minutes against his team helped Euro 2024 hosts Germany seal a 2-0 round-of-16 victory in Dortmund.

Premier League referee Michael Oliver ruled out a Joachim Andersen goal on 48 minutes following a VAR intervention that highlighted a marginal offside involving Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney.

Two minutes later, Oliver awarded a penalty to Germany after VAR officials Stuart Attwell and David Coote urged him to review an apparent handball by Andersen from David Raum’s cross. Kai Havertz scored from the spot to put Germany 1-0 ahead, and Jamal Musiala then added the hosts’ second goal later in the half.

But an angry Hjulmand questioned the use of VAR after the game and noted that both decisions went against his team.

“It was decided by two VAR decisions,” Hjulmand said. “I have the photo here [of the Delaney offside]. It was one centimetre. It doesn’t make sense, this is not how we are supposed to be using VAR.

“And then after a few minutes, it’s a penalty [to Germany]. I am so tired of the ridiculous handball rules. We should not require defender to be playing with hands like this. He [Andersen] was running normally, it’s a normal situation and he was hit with the ball from a metre away.

“I rarely talk about these decisions, but it was very decisive for this game. Being in front at 1-0 would have been very important and changed everything for our team.

“Good luck for Germany, but in my opinion, this is not how football should be.”

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann admitted that he had no qualms with Hjulmand’s complaints, saying he would make the same argument had the decision gone against his team.

“We had a penalty and I understand Denmark were annoyed by it,” Nagelsmann said. “It’s quite harsh, he didn’t do it intentionally, but that’s the rule. I would have been upset if it had happened the other way around, though.”

Despite the two crucial calls going against his team, Hjulmand said he remained a supporter of the use of VAR.

“I always liked VAR,” he said. I think technology can do something good for the sport, but in my opinion, when a decision is good it should be visible from the moon and not depend on a few centimetres. It’s supposed to be clear and obvious.

“But when it’s like this, it’s a little questionable. It should also be quicker. There has to be a way to improve it.

“We’ve been taught in seminars so many times to explain the handball rule and we have asked what is a natural movement?

“When we are told, this is not a natural position for handball because the player has to have his arms out to run. Just tell me what the rule is.”

UEFA issued a statement on its website defending the handball decision and the use of technology to detect the handball by Andersen.

“During the match between Germany and Denmark, connected ball technology housed inside Adidas’s Fussballliebe ball showed that Denmark defender Joachim Andersen touched the ball with his hand inside the penalty area,” UEFA said.

“In this instance, the sensor was able to record accurately the touch of the hand of the player with the surface of the ball.

“The ‘heartbeat’ of the ball shown on broadcast is the same as the referee sees during the on-field review and discerns the point of contact accurately to five-hundredths of a second.”

Hjulmand, meanwhile, defended referee Oliver’s decision to take both teams off the pitch in the first half due to an electrical storm.

“I wasn’t frightened, but I was looking for the players,” he said. “I was involved in a game in Denmark when the lightning hit one of my players, so I know how dangerous it can be.

“The lightning was right over the stadium, I saw my players’ reaction and it was the right thing to come off.”

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