Gareth Southgate has revealed the Football Association has handed a report to Fifa to seek clarity over perceived penalty inconsistencies at the World Cup.
England were denied what looked like a clear spot-kick when Harry Maguire was grabbed by Rouzbeh Cheshmi early on in their 6-2 win over Iran on Monday.
The VAR decided not to intervene but later alerted the referee to a tug on a shirt in the England box which resulted in Mehdi Taremi scoring a last-gasp penalty, while a similar offence resulted in a spot-kick in Argentina’s shock defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
Fifa referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina had singled out England during a pre-tournament briefing – also open to the media – showing a clip of Kalvin Phillips blocking to create space in the box for Maguire to score in England’s 5-0 World Cup qualifying win over Albania last year.
The Italian said such a goal would be disallowed at the World Cup and Southgate said after the Iran win that he was “worried” about the potential ramifications of England being the team highlighted ahead of the finals and that he would seek “dialogue” with Fifa.
Asked on the eve of the Group B clash with the United States if that dialogue had started, he replied: “We put a report in. We haven’t heard anything back as yet.
“There was obviously a penalty given the next afternoon, so whether that was a consequence of our game being reviewed by the referees or not…it’s hard to say. But we haven’t had a response yet.
“The concern is the consistency. We know what we’ve got to do right and we know we risk being punished for certain things.
“I think for all the teams in the tournament, there is a worry when you’re not quite sure what’s going to be given and that uncertainty on the field and from the VAR as well.”
England defender John Stones was the shirt-pulling culprit, but he too was left perplexed by the seemingly different level of officiating for the two decisions.
“I don’t know what that VAR thought process was,” he said. “Me and Harry – I know that Harry got kind of highlighted in that first kind of instance – but I’m not one for going down and I was straight up appealing for a penalty. I didn’t even realise that Harry had been having the same thing.
“Looking at it after, I’m a bit baffled that nothing had been called and then was for something that, in my opinion, was never, ever, ever a penalty.
“I’m not one for conceding silly fouls or things like that and I don’t believe that with the amount of jostling that goes on in a box, a little pull of the shirt makes someone’s knees buckle and go over.
“But there has got to be some sort of consistency to it and that’s where everyone’s frustration is. How can one thing – well, two instances in our case – not be a penalty?
“It’s hard to know what someone’s thought process is because we get sat in a refereeing meeting before the tournament and get told certain things and I think our frustration – or my frustration – is when those don’t get backed up.
“That’s difficult because we try and adapt our game to the way they want to ref things and I understand that they have got a super-difficult job nowadays with all the cameras and so many options being different to others, but there has to be a bit of clarity.”