ITV expert Christina Unkel doubles down on England penalty stance in 386-word clarification

Will Ford
Christina Unkel
Christina Unkel is sticking to her guns on the England penalty.

ITV refereeing expert Christina Unkel has doubled down on her claim that England should not have been awarded a penalty for Denzel Dumfries challenge on Harry Kane.

Dumfries made contact with his studs on Kane’s boot as the England striker got a shot away and having originally waved away penalty shouts referee Felix Zwayer went to the monitor on the advice of VAR official Bastian Dankert and changed his decision.

Unkel made it clear as the decision was being made that she didn’t think a penalty should have been given, with further questions subsequently raised after Bukayo Saka handled the ball in the build up.

COE threshold not reached

And she took to X on Thursday to clarify her position, insisting the 90 per cent threshold for a ‘clear and obvious error’ being made was not reached.

She wrote: ‘The referees NO penalty decision on the field did not reach the line of intervention as a “clear and obvious error” and should not have been recommended for overturn because VAR is for “maximum benefit, minimum interference”.

‘The threshold that must be reached before a VAR should make a recommendation is COE.

‘(An) Other way to say COE is does the overall football community (biases removed) expect the decision?

‘The burden is high and to help think that 90 per cent of the football community expects the recommended decision once they see the factual video evidence.

‘VAR was created to correct the decisions that were missed that are “hand of god” scenarios, missed points of contact that are serious foul play, etc.’

Unkel continued: ‘It is why 9/10 times when a referee goes to (the) monitor they change decision because to send the recommendation it should be reaching such a high threshold.

‘Errors still can be made which is why referee still has final decision to accept or decline a recommendation.’

‘In this situation: the referees decision on the field (whether given or not) should remain without a VAR recommendation either way.

‘Each way you argue it – it doesn’t fall into a COE error (as seen through discourse of football community) so should have been check complete.’

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‘Context of contact overlooked’

Unkel went onto express her confusion surrounding the decision being overturned, pointing to general UEFA guidance to evidence her point.

She added: ‘It was a surprise that it was recommended (to review Zwayer’s decision) due to the standards for high line of intervention consistently maintained in UEFA and there are several key considerations for why doesn’t fall into a penalty due to how contact was initiated (follow through) and context.

‘Should this clip alone for the kind of contact and context of the contact be up for debate as to a preferred decision (as one has to have a decision as a referee) the preferred decision is no penalty.

‘Final wrap: Due to it not being a COE error and the plays considerations alone not rising to a preferred decision for penalty, the analysis remains it was an error from procedural and substantive standpoint.

‘So why, given VAR at time of recommendation determined (it) was (a) reckless tackle (why yellow card also issued because if careless would have only been penalty) he focused on Dumfries’ studs making contact with side/front of Kane’s foot.

‘But context of that contact should not have been overlooked.’