It was a very interesting Women’s Euro tournament for me, and I was lucky enough to attend four matches in person, including England versus Scotland.
Because Denmark’s squad was based in Rotterdam, it was easy for us to take the train to Utrecht for the Auld Enemy clash which turned out to be so one-sided. If England were getting carried away by that stage, however, imagine the fever that took over when the chance to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Danish men’s win in Sweden with another trophy became a distinct possibility!
To make this expanded edition even more interesting, England kindly knocked out Germany, the favourites, of course, leaving Denmark to face Austria in the semi-finals, which we only won on penalties and next Netherlands, the hosts, in the Enschede final.
Unfortunately, even though we were level at 2-2 at half-time, a combination of injuries and Dutch superiority ensured that it was just not meant to be!
We have a little work to do to make sure we have a Danish referee ready for this level at the next tournament but more generally it proved a big success not having any male referees.
Simulation has been in the news and you could hardly ask for a bigger story than Cristiano Ronaldo’s contribution to the two-legged Spanish Super Cup encounter between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which Madrid won convincingly, 5-1 on aggregate.
In the first game at Camp Nou, there was a mandatory yellow for taking off his shirt after coming on and scoring, which of course should have made him determined to avoid doing anything stupid in order to stay on the field… as Cesc Fabregas was also unable to do at Stamford Bridge!
Ronaldo was not only deemed to be guily of simulation by the referee just two minutes after his first yellow, but he went on to push Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea and invite further punishment, which he has described on social media as ‘persecution’.
The only surprise for me was that the suspension was not a longer one, and I am glad to be able to report that we don’t have a precedent in Denmark for a referee reporting such contact. I am told the minimum for this is now six games in England, so given that Ronaldo’s five-match ban included one for his sending-off, and he is also allowed to play in the Champions League, he can consider himself a very lucky boy, as opposed to the tragic victim of some form of persecution!
However, I must admit I am inclined to agree with the former Premier League referee, Dermot Gallagher, who thought that a goal kick would have been a better example of management from Bengoetxea, as we have all seen worse examples of diving.
Even so, the pushing that followed was clearly intentional, there is never a good excuse and this behaviour must not be tolerated. I was fortunate to be so tall that, during my own career, it probably kept anything similar from happening to me.
Since my retirement I have actually had former players confess what they had really wanted to do to me in the heat of the moment… and that they simply had not dared!
Until next time, vi ses, or see you later.