Having never really watched a women’s football game before, I am pleasantly surprised at how good the World Cup is.

I watch women’s rugby on occasions and enjoy that so thought I would give the football a go. I have enjoyed immensely the little bits I have seen.

It may not be as fast paced intensity wise as the men’s game, but it certainly has some real quality and will continue to improve for sure.

It’s good to see the size of the viewing figures as well as it shows people are enjoying watching it. It helps with inclusiveness and diversity in sport when you have a product which is good that people will watch.

The more who enjoy it, the bigger it will become and the support will grow. It’s the same for women’s rugby and other sports.

You sometimes see people making negative comments but if you don’t like it you don’t have to watch.


There are plenty of things on television, so watch something else. That’s one thing that annoys me sometimes, when you hear people complaining about a TV programme that millions of others enjoy, just because they don’t.

The World Cup hasn’t been without its controversies, especially when it comes to VAR. Scotland’s goalkeeper Lee Alexander stopped a penalty against Argentina, but it was retaken after VAR judged her to be off her line.

Gabrielle Onguene of Cameroon looks on after Referee Liang Qin makes a VAR decision

Rugby has had teething issues with the TMO and there are still problems where officials or the video ref get things wrong, so understandably it takes getting used to for everyone involved when you bring technology in for the first time. Especially when so many decisions are a matter of interpretation, or the individual’s opinion.

When you have a decision, in football or rugby, against the team you support then you may not like it. But if VAR gets it right then the technology has done its job, that’s what it’s there for.

It should be about correcting clear and obvious decisions which a match official has got wrong, or when it is  humanly impossible for them to see it any other way on the field in a split second.

Let’s be honest, how many of you watching at home only see the mistake differently after you have watched it again on slow motion replay from a different camera angle.

This is what the TMO and VAR are there for, to help officials and advise the match referee, who will always have the final say, that a decision may need to be overturned, or confirming it was the right call.


If we stick to that principle it will add to the excitement of the game and help the official make the correct decision and lead to the correct outcome of the game. After all that’s what we want isn’t it? The correct decision given, especially match winning ones.

Or do you just want the right decision when it affects your team? The passion for sport… or shall we call it one-eyed passion!

The one extra thing I’d like VAR used for is when it comes to foul play, especially around players’ unacceptable behaviour, no matter what the sport.

It was disappointing to see the behaviour of the Cameroon footballers in their game against England. It was totally unacceptable, especially as a number of the decisions they were complaining about were proved by VAR to be the correct ones. So instead of everyone talking about the football, everyone is talking about the negative side of the players’ behaviour.

Referee Qin Liang in conversation with VAR after an England goal during the World Cup

I was listening to a debate about it on the radio and a Cameroon football reporter refused to criticise the team for their behaviour, saying they were passionate and they wanted to win and progress to the next round so much.

Don’t all teams? That’s no excuse.

It’s important that kind of behaviour is called out. The Cameroon Football Association, as well as FIFA, should have said that whilst they understood the players’ frustrations, this is not the sort of behaviour we condone in a match and that it would be dealt with appropriately.


People don’t want to see that kind of behaviour. The referee got most of the decisions correct but I would have liked to have seen her deal with the Cameroon players in a firmer way, although that’s a trend throughout football really.

When you want to grow the women’s game and you want to get an even bigger audience, it’s important you have the right image.

Rugby had to deal with a lot of violence on the field in the past. There are still instances of it happening today at local levels as well as at the top occasionally, but on the whole that has been stamped out over the years.

Lucy Bronze of England in action with Yvonne Leuko of Cameroon during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

Football needs to stamp out what we saw from the Cameroon team. It’s not the image we want to see in order to get more people involved in the game. Phil Neville had a point when he said that young girls all over the world would be watching that behaviour.

It’s good to see women refereeing the women’s game too. In order for the game to grow and female officiating to grow, it is right they get the opportunity at the top of the game. It seems to me they already have a decent number of referees to officiate at that level and the same goes for rugby, with the likes of Joy Neville who officiated the Women’s World Cup final in Belfast a few years ago and is now in the Pro 14 and a European final.

Hopefully we will get to the stage when it is not something that is a talking point any more and everybody is appointed to officiate matches based on their ability. Equality means equality, if you’re good enough then you get the opportunity.

There has been a debate about getting male referees in for the rest of the World Cup but they have enough quality officials there and they will keep learning from this experience. That’s how they will grow the pool.

The only way you will improve as a referee, or know if someone has got what it takes to get to the very top, is to give them the opportunities out there on the field on the big stage.

I’m sure the referee in charge of Cameroon v England will learn from the match and won’t put up with that kind of nonsense again. She got most of the decisions correct and the best team won.


FIFA needs to back up their referees and make sure teams or individual players are dealt with if they don’t behave appropriately.


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