Virgil van Dijk blasts “the English referee” after VAR farce denies Netherlands victory

The first ridiculous VAR decision of Euro 2024 typically came from a Premier League official, with Netherlands captain Virgil van Dijk left frustrated.

Van Dijk captained Netherlands in their second game of the group stage on Friday night, against tournament favourites France.

Though billed as one of the most exciting ties of the round, it proved to be a low-quality affair as Ronald Koeman’s side dug in to avoid defeat and all but secure a knockout spot.

Netherlands could – and should – have won it, however, when Xavi Simons struck from the edge of the area midway through the second half.

The celebrations were cut short, though, with referee Anthony Taylor advised by his linesman that Denzel Dumfries was stood in an offside position when Simons let fire.

A long VAR check followed – breaking the norm from an almost-seamless tournament so far otherwise – as Taylor’s Premier League colleague Stuart Attwell adjudged the situation.

It was a subjective call over whether Dumfries had blocked goalkeeper Mike Maignan from attempting to save Simons’ effort, and after nearly three minutes, Attwell decided the goal should not stand.

The game played out as a 0-0 draw, and speaking to Optus Sport after the game, Van Dijk said: “We scored a goal that is a fair goal.

“[Maignan] had no chance to get into that corner, but the English referee decided to disallow it.”

It seems no coincidence that the first major VAR issue at the Euros came with Premier League officials in charge, with it not lost on fans of various clubs and countries.

Speaking in his post-match press conference, per the Mirror, Koeman summed up the farce, saying: “If it’s offside, then you don’t need to spend five minutes touching your ear.

“I don’t understand this. If you have this much doubt, you give a goal!

“Dumfries did not hinder the goalkeeper. It wasn’t because of Dumfries that Maignan didn’t go for the ball, Maignan did not react because he simply couldn’t get to the ball anyway.

“He would have never reached that ball. It’s a legal goal. Once again, he’s not disturbing the goalkeeper.”