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Southgate worried by England refereeing precedent and demands 'clarity' at World Cup

By Sports Desk November 22, 2022

Gareth Southgate is worried and demanded "clarity" after expressing concerns England could fall foul to refereeing decisions after a pre-World Cup briefing.

FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina used an example clip of Kalvin Phillips blocking an opponent at a free-kick to help create space for Harry Maguire to score in last year's 5-0 win over Albania.

The video was used to brief referees, competing nations and the media, on how to spot foul play from set-piece situations and seemingly worked against England in Monday's 6-2 thrashing of Iran.

Maguire appeared to be dragged down by Iran's Rouzbeh Cheshmi in the opening stages, with the referee nor the VAR intervening, before John Stones conceded a late penalty for similar on Mehdi Taremi.

Southgate admitted he fears England may fall on the wrong side of decisions after Collina's briefing, citing concerns after a "definite penalty" on Maguire.

"What worries me is we were used in an example in the referees' video," the England manager said.

"What we were shown, the incident in the first half [with Maguire] would be a definite penalty.

"Maybe there's a shirt pull [for the Iran penalty] – we've got to be better on that – but I'm a bit worried we were the example shown.

"Then to get a decision as happened in the first half, we need some clarification really as to how it's going to be."

Southgate recalled the Football Association being able to discuss penalty decisions with match officials after England's 2-1 win over Tunisia at Russia 2018.

"It happened in Russia and we've got to have that dialogue with FIFA [again]," he added.

"We want clarity. Otherwise, we don't know where we stand. Goals are going in and we don't know whether they stand or not. The bit that worries me is we were the example shown."

England face the United States in their next Group B game on Friday before a clash with Wales four days later.

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    Rashford scored England's opener and their final goal in a 3-0 win over their British rivals at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Tuesday.

    The victory sent England into the last 16 as Group B winners, and they will now face Senegal for a place in the quarter-finals.

    Rashford, one of four new faces introduced by Gareth Southgate for the game, curled in a wonderful free-kick to break the deadlock early in the second half, before he doubled his tally with a low shot after a mazy run, with Wales goalkeeper Danny Ward allowing the ball through his legs.

    After becoming the first Manchester United player to score three goals at a World Cup since Bobby Charlton in 1966, when England won the trophy, Rashford must now replicate that level of performance time and time again, according to his club-mate Shaw.

    When asked by Stats Perform what he thought of Rashford's display, Shaw replied: "He's so good, the talent he's got, he can be unplayable. 

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    "Hopefully he can keep those standards high and keep doing it."

    Rashford, who finished with six shots, only one fewer than the entire Wales team managed combined, had scored eight times in 19 appearances for United this season heading into the World Cup, and Shaw has full faith the 25-year-old will keep up his form.

    "Very confident. I see it day in, day out – what he's doing, how he's training," Shaw added. "He took his chance, I think it was his time to start and for me he took his chance.

    "He needs to keep the standards high now, because he's a really important player."

    Phil Foden was a star of the show along with Rashford.

    Having faced criticism from some quarters for not bringing the Manchester City youngster on against the United States last week, Southgate started Foden in place of Bukayo Saka.

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    "Not just the ones that started today, you look at the bench and the quality we have, we have World Class players who if they're not starting can come on and change a game," Shaw said when asked if Foden could be decisive in pushing England deep into the tournament.

    "Phil didn't get a chance against the USA but he came in and was the wonderful player we all know, getting on the ball, making things happen, scoring a very important goal at a crucial time and that’s what we want from all of them. We need them to be like that."

    Rashford revealed after the match that he had recently suffered the loss of a friend, and Shaw – whose grandmother passed away shortly before the World Cup – explained the unique unity of the England camp had been crucial in helping him overcome the loss.

    "One million per cent," Shaw said. "The togetherness is not something I've witnessed in a team before.

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