Cameroon manager Alain Djeumfa accused officials of a “miscarriage of justice” in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup loss to England, citing frustration with multiple video replay decisions while defending his players’ protest of the calls.
At times during the incident-filled game, the Cameroon players looked like they might refuse to resume playing, leading England manager Phil Neville to say he was “ashamed” of his opponents’ behavior.
Asked whether he thought the calls against Cameroon were racist, Djeumfa reiterated that the officiating “was a miscarriage of justice.”
“I won’t go anything further than that,” Djeumfa said. “It’s a game, it’s a sport. The referee made a lot of mistakes tonight.”
The 3-0 loss, which eliminated Cameroon from the World Cup, was marked by three controversial video assistant referee decisions. The first was a call to award England an indirect free kick for a back pass in the 13th minute that led to Steph Houghton’s opening goal.
Ellen White gave England a 2-0 lead in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time with a goal awarded after an offside call was correctly overruled by VAR. Cameroon vehemently protested the call, having seen it replayed on the video screen.
Cameroon players were angered again at the start of the second half when Ajara Nchout’s goal was denied because of another offside VAR review.
Cameroon’s players came to the touch line and were visibly upset at the call, and play was temporarily halted again.
“[White] was offside,” Cameroon’s Raissa Feudjio said. “But the referee did not even go to check the goal. She gave the goal.
“But then our goal was disallowed and we found ourselves in a difficult situation, where most of us do not want to play. We didn’t want to play anymore. We just wanted the game to be over. But because we were playing for our country, we decided to go on.
“We were really disappointed. The coach said: ‘Don’t worry, the referee wants England to win today.’ Don’t worry about this. Your job is to represent your country. So you have to go back out and play.”
Djeumfa told reporters he felt the game was “slipping away” after the back-pass call went against them.
“The officials wanted something else, but then the girls lost some tempo and we need to take our hat off despite the refereeing mistakes for their performance,” he said.
Djeumfa also said his players were not refusing to play over the calls.
“That’s your feeling that the players refused to play, but ultimately we didn’t stop and refuse to play,” he said. “My players were examples, and occasionally when you are in a state of shock, you can lose your cool.
“But the players never really refused to play the game. They showed professionalism, and I take my hat off to them for that.”
England’s players said they were unsure why the game was twice halted, and Neville was critical of Cameroon’s behavior.
“I sat through 90 minutes of football there and completely felt ashamed of the opposition,” Neville said. “I did not enjoy the game for that reason apart from the fact we’re in the quarterfinal and have momentum.
“All those young girls and boys watching the game back in England – we had 5, 6, 7 million people watching England play an international game against Cameroon with that kind of behavior.
“I think it’s pretty sad. I can’t gloss over it and fudge it, and I’ve got to tell the truth to everybody.”
Neville said he was proud of his players and added that if any of them had behaved like the Cameroon team, he would never pick them again.
Neville also addressed Toni Duggan’s reaction after it appeared she was spat on by a Cameroon player in the first half.
“It’s pretty clear. It’s unacceptable,” Neville said. “I will praise Toni Duggan because that’s the worst thing you can do on a pitch. There’s no place for it. Toni handled it fantastically. She just wiped it off and got on with playing football.”
Houghton suffered an ankle injury late in the game on a robust challenge, and her status for England’s quarterfinal showdown Thursday with Norway is in doubt.