Once again England have been knocked out of a major tournament yet this time its despite playing very well - Gareth Southgate's men are still the World Cup’s joint-top scorers - and genuinely threatening to go all the way in the competition before referees and dodgy decisions ensured that they, not football, would be coming home.
Every 12 years since 1986 England have been eliminated from The World Cup Finals & returned home with grievances at the tournament officials for the manner of their exit:
1986 - Handball Maradona - Diego Maradona punches the ball into the net for Argentina and inexplicably the goal is allowed to stand and England go on to lose 2-1.
1998 - Argentina, again, in the Last 16 - At 2-2 late in the game, Sol Campbell scores a good third goal for The Three Lions but its disallowed and England lose 4-3 on penalties.
2010 - Frank Lampard Ghost Goal - At 2-1 down vs Germany in South Africa, Frank Lampard chips the keeper, the goal bounces a yard over the line but its disallowed.
2022 - France's first goal should be disallowed for a foul 27 seconds before on Saka then Harry Kane sees a penalty shout denied minutes later at the other end of the pitch.
Last week's exit to France aided and abetted by Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio who had one of the worst refereeing performance in the history of the competition saw England's players and football fans worldwide scratching their heads at the decisions.
As Maguire says, England had the Quarter-Final tilted against them twice in the first half with France scoring a goal 27 seconds after Bukayo Saka was clearly fouled with no free-kick given that VAR should have disallowed then Harry Kane was denied a stonewall penalty amid a string of dodgy decisions that steered the game France's way:
First goals matter hugely in football and Sampaio was favouring France with fouls rarely given & no cautioning yellow cards given out to stop the flow of French hacks that were stopping Saka & Kane without consequence indicating that The Fix Was In.
Clearly, the referees and VAR officials had some kind of warning at half-time as England get some better decisions in the second half including two penalties yet there was also a good shout for a third spot-kick when Jude Bellingham was fouled, Antoine Griezemann should have been sent off for constant cynical fouling that stopped England attacks and Theo Hernandez, the player who fouled Boufal last night, could have been dismissed for barging Mason Mount for the 2nd penalty and denying a goal-scoring opportunity.
Yet France progressed as they did in Russia 2018 with big help from the officials literally from their first game against Australia with a controversial penalty needed to break the deadlock against The Socceroos that was the first ever use of VAR in a World Cup...:
...to the Final itself when another controversial penalty was awarded to Les Bleus at 1-1 for a handball that the BBC Match of the Day panel didn't believe was a spot kick especially according to the rules governing handball at the time:
I predicted before the tournament that England would win The World Cup it unless it was fixed for Lionel Messi and I firmly believe that England were the outstanding team in the tournament and would have won it on a level playing field but were ruined by the referee vs France and the prospect of a Qatari-PSG love in between Mbappe and Messi.
Yet its by no means the first time that The Three Lions have been screwed out of a good chance to win a World Cup by dodgy officiating in FIFA's showcase global tournament.
In fact, its the fourth time in the last nine World Cups that England have qualified for - missing USA 1994 through failing to qualify after the FA prematurely let Bobby Robson go and appointed Graham Taylor - with the 1986, 1998 and 2010 tournament containing strange decisions to say the least that denied England their chance of global glory:
- Mexico '86 QF vs Argentina Diego Maradona - "The Hand Of A Rascal" Goal - Bobby Robson
Sir Bobby Robson refused to acknowledge Diego Maradona punching the ball into the net for the opening goal in The Quarter-Final of the Mexico 1986 tournament as the "Hand of God" as there was nothing divine about the unsportsmanlike action of a cheat who flouted the football rules to give Argentina an undeserved lead against England:
It's one of - if not the most - controversial goals in World Cup history but why didn't the officials - referee or linesman - spot the incident or did they and had been paid off?
Glenn Hoddle who was playing that day in Argentina said of the incident:
“When it comes to England’s most unfair moments, there are too many, the list is as long as my arm.
"The Hand of God was the most horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach, because I actually saw it. Some players didn’t see it.
"Terry Fenwick, myself and obviously Peter Shilton started to chase the referee. We were saying ‘handball, handball’, and I was holding my hand.
"The referee turned away and I saw the linesman run to the halfway line. In the pit of my stomach I knew he wasn’t going to change.
"It was a horrendous feeling, the feeling in a split second of injustice.”
Bulgarian linesman Bogdan Dochev, who died aged 80 in 2017, blames the referee and had very strong views about the incident and Maradona saying:
"Diego Maradona ruined my life. He is a brilliant footballer but a small man.
"He is low in height and as a person.
"If Fifa had put a referee from Europe in charge of such an important game, the first goal of Maradona would have been disallowed."
The Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser is still making money from the incident having sold the ball in question for £2M at an auction just last month and the shirt Maradona wore is the most expensive piece of football memorabilia ever sold for £7.1M in May.
Whoever was to blame, it was the game's crucial opening goal and England went onto lose 2-1 & be dumped unfairly out of the competition.
2. France 1998 - Sol Campbell Goal vs Argentina To Make It 3-2 Wrongly Disallowed
Twelve years later & England had a chance to exact revenge versus Argentina if not Diego Maradona, who'd retired in drug-addled disgrace by then, and in the latter stages of an enthralling Last 16 game with the score 2-2 thanks to Alan Shearer & Michael Owen, Sol Campbell heads in a third goal from a corner that is controversially disallowed & six years later the exact same thing happened again at Euro 2004 against Portugal.
Both denied goals clearly affected both England and Campbell & in 2018 he expressed his belief that FIFA Corruption could be behind the 1998 chalked off header saying:
“When I look back at that Argentine game now and the goal I scored, I do have questions about it. All the corruption that has happened at FIFA in the years since may not have been confined to Sepp Blatter and his pals, who have all been thrown out of office.
“The question I would ask is why was there no corruption outside of that? Are we to believe that most of FIFA was corrupt back then, but none of that filtered onto the pitch with the referees? I have often wondered whether someone had a word in the ear of the referees with a simple message; if England don’t score a perfectly clean goal don’t give it.
“In my mind, that goal would have been allowed to stand in most games, but someone decided that was not going to happen in that game. So many people have said that corruption inside FIFA was outrageous and you do have to wonder about so many things that happened in World Cups down the years when you see the kind of people that were running the game.
“Did the corruption stop on the pitch? That is all I would ask.”
England went onto lose 4-3 on penalties but would have won the game and progressed to the Quarter-Finals if Campbell's goal had been allowed to stand.
3. South Africa 2010 - Frank Lampard Over The Line Goal Vs Germany Disallowed
Twelve years after that disappointment in France - can you see a pattern developing? - England were robbed of another goal at a World Cup when 2-1 down to Germany and approaching half-time, Three Lions midfielder Frank Lampard scored a lovely chipped effort that bounced a foot over the line but the goal isn't given by the officials.
Then England boss Italian Fabio Capello could see it was clearly a goal from the halfway dugout 50 metres away but the referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistant referee linesman Mauricio Espinosa both from Uruguay missed the quite obviously good goal.
An ITV graphic shown on British television at the time cast further doubt on just how the officials could have missed it by displaying both the referee and linesman's vantage points and both were in great position to clearly see it was over the line:
Some good did come out of that World Cup heartache as it changed Sepp Blatter's mind on introducing more technology in sport as he realised then that not to bring in goal-line technology in line with other global sports like tennis' use of Hawkeye would make a mockery of the beautiful game and the then FIFA President admitted the Lampard 'goal' was the key to the introduction of the technology.
That was scant consolation to Fabio Capello and the England squad and 12 years later, England are still being robbed of their football Destiny by patently unfair decisions and something has to be done to ensure the World Cup playing field is made a level one if football is ever going to come home.