AAs the German football team lick their wounds after their defeat at Wembley, at least some of the disappointment is channeled into speculation as to whether the team has been treated fairly, perhaps even cheated by the win. In particular, there is debate as to whether the umpires missed what has been termed a “clear case of handball” in the 25th minute of the game. The tabloid Bild, for example, is furious. Under the headline: Anger at the Scandal Referees, the newspaper writes, it was “clear to see England player Leah Williamson playing the ball at shoulder height, with her hand”.
It accuses referee Kateryna Monzul of not seeing it as a handball, while video referees Paolo Valeri and Pol van Bockel jointly concluded that it was not a punishable move. !” explains Bild.
The tabloid confronted Monzul about her decision after the game, asking: “What happened to the English hands in the 25th minute?” Monzul, it said, ‘shrugged her shoulders, stretched her arms wide apologetically, and left. No explanation.”
The tabloid then moved on to confront Valeri after the match ended in the mixed zone. His answer, it said, was:I can’t say anything, I’m sorry” – or “I can’t say anything, I’m sorry”. Bild interprets this more bluntly in German as, “Sorry, I’m muzzled.”
Later in a widely broadcast media interview, the German trainer, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, was also critical of the decision: “At this level in a European Championship final, something like this should not happen,” she said. “I would like to see a discussion about that. But what I don’t want is for it to be overlooked.”
In a separate comment, Bild goes so far as to liken what it calls the “fraudulent” outcome to the German men’s defeat at Wembley against England at the 1966 World Cup: “Germany is crying with our football women and annoyed at this new Wembley “Fraud! With this 1:2 defeat after extension, we have been ripped off again nearly 56 years after the Wembley goal scandal,” it wrote.
Spiegel referred to the “commotion surrounding a handball”, which it said could turn the game in Germany’s favour. It quoted Voss-Tecklenburg as graciously saying that although Germany should have been awarded a penalty, in her opinion England were a worthy winner after the 120-minute game. “They played themselves in the hearts of a lot of people,” she said.
Die Zeit said it was clear that the match “could have ended differently if the referee had recognized Leah Williamson’s handball in the 25th minute. According to the rules, it should have resulted in a penalty kick, maybe even a red card. But neither the referee, who is already quite taken aback, nor her video assistants were willing to admit that they had seen anything. Which then led to quite a discussion.”
Meanwhile, Germany, unsurprisingly, is already looking forward to next year’s World Cup to take revenge.