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Neville: No point moaning about changes to penalty rule

Changes to the law about what is permitted in terms of a goalkeeper’s position when a penalty is taken came into effect on June 1.

Phil Neville says teams need to accept the changes to laws about penalties (John Walton/PA)
Phil Neville says teams need to accept the changes to laws about penalties (John Walton/PA)

England boss Phil Neville admits he has been surprised about the law change related to penalties that has been in the spotlight at the Women’s World Cup, but stressed “there’s no point moaning about it”.

Changes about what is permitted in terms of a goalkeeper’s position when a penalty is taken were among adjustments to the laws of the game that came into effect on June 1.

That was six days before the start of the tournament in France, the first Women’s World Cup where VAR would be in use.

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Argentina were allowed to retake their penalty after an offence by Scotland goalkeeper Lee Alexander (Richard Sellers/PA)

The group stage subsequently saw three spot-kicks retaken after VAR ruled the goalkeepers, who were booked, had not had at least part of one foot touching the line when the ball was struck.

Scotland’s Lee Alexander was one of the goalkeepers concerned, in the 3-3 draw with Argentina that saw Shelley Kerr’s side knocked out.

On Friday, the International Football Association Board announced goalkeepers would not receive a yellow card for encroachment during penalty shoot-outs at the tournament.

When asked about the matter ahead of England’s last-16 clash with Cameroon in Valenciennes on Sunday, Neville said: “I think it’s a surprise. But I think we’re best probably speaking about that at the end of the World Cup, my true thoughts, probably on a few things.

Whether it’s right or wrong it is the rule, and everybody at the World Cup maybe should stop moaning about it because it’s not going to change. Phil Neville

“I think we’ve just got to get on with it. The rules are the rules. We’ve had two talks by the referees and the referees have adhered to those rules. There’s nothing we can do about it. The goalkeepers have to deal with it.

“I’ve got three keepers, plus Ellie Roebuck (who is training with the England squad), who are probably really frustrated and disappointed and can’t see the reasoning behind it because it puts all the advantage in the forward – and we’ve just got to accept it.”

He added: “They (the goalkeepers) can’t take risks because the penalty will have to be retaken. I don’t think it’s the type of action that you can try to bend the rules and cheat a little bit. It’s there for VAR to see.

“So you’ve just got to get on with it. There’s no point in moaning about it. If there’s a penalty, a penalty shoot-out, my keepers have just got to handle it and abide by the rules and if not, the penalty will be re-taken.

“Whether it’s right or wrong it is the rule, and everybody at the World Cup maybe should stop moaning about it because it’s not going to change.

“It’s here for the duration of the World Cup, so our goalkeepers have been practising, we’ve been scrutinising, and my keepers are in a really good place about it. We’ve told them not to get over-dramatic about the situation.”

England face a Cameroon outfit who are ranked 46th in the world and finished third in Group E, having beaten New Zealand after losses to Canada and Holland.

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England progressed with a perfect group record (John Walton/PA)

Prior to Neville’s pre-match press conference at the Stade du Hainaut, Cameroon’s boss Alain Djeumfa spoke at his of England having “weaknesses” that they hope to take advantage of.

Neville said when asked about those comments: “If you watch England, you’ll be doing it to try to find the weaknesses, to beat England, just like we watch them and saw unbelievable strengths,
and weaknesses as well.

“They are very unpredictable. I don’t think they’re the 46th best in the world, I think they are better than that. They have dangerous attacking players will go for the victory. They will take risks and gamble.

“We have to defend well against that but exploit their weaknesses that they leave by the amount of players they flood forward.”

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Phil Neville is wary of Cameroon’s threat (Richard Sellers/PA)

England, ranked third in the world, went through as winners of Group D following victories over Scotland and Japan in Nice, and Argentina in Le Havre in between.

Neville, who has a fully fit squad, added: “I’ve got the say I think the World Cup is more visible in the north of France than it is in the south.

“We’ve been in Nice for about 15 days and at periods, in certain areas, you wouldn’t probably know there’s a World Cup going on.

“But when you come to the north, the streets are decked out with World Cup memorabilia, flags, there’s signs to the stadiums on the paths, and there’s a real World Cup feeling.

“In Le Havre and Valenciennes it’s visible, it’s in people’s face. It’s what a World Cup should be like.”

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