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Controversial rule raises doubts over Denmark’s goal against England

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There are claims that Denmark’s opening goal in their Euro 2020 semi-final clash against England should have been disallowed according to IFAB’s laws of the game.

The Three Lions secured a famous 2-1 victory against the Danes at Wembley on Wednesday night to book a place in their first major final since 1966.

But they had to do it the hard way after falling behind to a stunning 25-yard free-kick by Mikkel Damsgaard on the half-an-hour mark.

Replays showed that the Denmark wall edged across towards the England one just before the strike was hit, and they appeared to block goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s vision at the last moment.

They ended up practically right next to the defending England players, but according to one of the IFAB regulations, this is actually not permitted.

The relevant clause reads: “Where three or more defending team players form a ‘wall’, all attacking team players must remain at least 1 m (1 yd) from the ‘wall’ until the ball is in play.”

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In the end it did not matter for England, however, as a Simon Kjaer own goal and a Harry Kane strike in extra time saw them set up a mouthwatering final against Italy on Sunday.

Speaking after the game Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand was magnanimous in defeat, and had high praise for his opposite number Gareth Southgate.

“I want to congratulate my colleague Gareth,” he said. “I followed what the FA has done and how he works with the young players, gets involved and how he behaves with the values he has.

“How he represents and communicates is outstanding. Congratulations Gareth, you are doing a great job in a difficult job.”

Denmark have a few gripes over the officiating of their own, with some claims that the penalty which eventually led to the winning goal should not have been given because there was a second ball on the pitch at the time.

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And Hjulmand added: “It was a penalty which should not have been a penalty. It is something which annoys me right now. We are very disappointed.

“You cannot pass by the ball on the pitch which has so much influence on the game.

“I know it sounds weird right now but I cannot help having these feelings. One thing is to lose a game, it happens, but losing this way is disappointing because these guys have fought a lot.It feels bitter but we have to digest this before we can discuss these feelings. It’s a bitter way to leave the tournament.

“The way we lost makes it harder to understand why we lost. I have to be careful with what I say. We have an amazing group and we definitely can do something great again.

“Maybe it is easier for me to say how I feel in a few days.”

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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