Liverpool FC right-back Neco Williams was sent off in the 26th minute in a friendly against World Champions France at the Allianz Riviera. The score was still 0-0, when the Welsh defender blocked returning French striker and blackmail expert Karim Benzema’s shot with both arms away from his body.
After an extremely long VAR check, referee Luis Godinho ruled it was a deliberate handball and Willams his marching orders, much to the bemusement of both Neco and his teammates.
After the game, Manchester United winger and Welsh teammate Daniel James went on a rather lengthy rant in an interview with Sky Sports about the decision:
“I’m not one to talk about referees, but it’s a friendly game.”
“He took 10 minutes to look at it and then decided it’s clear and obvious. I don’t know how it’s clear and obvious.
“He’s two yards out and I’m not even sure it’s a penalty. We’ve been told that if he’s in a natural position and he can’t do anything about it it’s not a penalty.
“Even their players were saying ‘don’t send him off’. You may as well give them two goals with a penalty and a red card.
“If it had happened against Switzerland (in Wales’ Euro 2020 opener) we would be a lot more gutted.”
Welsh interim boss Robert Page also spoke on his intention to appeal the decision, as his plan was to give Williams a whole bunch of minutes to get him ready for the tournament. If the card stands, Neco will serve a one-match suspension and miss Wales’ final Euro 2020 warm-up friendly against Albania in Cardiff on Saturday.
“Neco is devastated in there. He wanted justification from the referee but he couldn’t get it.
“We’ll do everything we can to overturn it. If there is a chance to do it, we will.
“That’s the disappointing thing. The plan was (for Williams) to play so many minutes here and building up to Saturday, but we can’t do that now.
“It was a harsh penalty anyway, to get him sent off as well a bitter blow. It changed the course of the game, for France as well I imagine.
“When you have 11 against France it’s a difficult task.”