England charged over laser pen incident as second ball on pitch also adds to winning penalty controversy

Uefa have opened proceedings against England over the "use of a laser pointer" which appeared to be shone in the face of Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel before Harry Kane’s semi-final-deciding penalty.

The spot-kick, which helped book England’s place in their first men’s European Championship, was already the subject of controversy after Raheem Sterling was accused of diving in the first half of extra time at Wembley on Wednesday night. Harry Kane’s penalty was saved by Schmeichel but the Tottenham striker scored on the rebound to put England 2-1 in front.

However, television footage later revealed that someone in the crowd shone a green laser pen in Schmeichel’s face in the moments before Kane stepped up to take it.

Credit: ITV

It is unclear at this stage if Schmeichel was aware or if the laser affected him in any way but it was an unsavoury scene that drew condemnation from England fans on social media. And on Thursday morning Uefa also acted, with "the use of a laser point by its supporters" coming under one of three issues levelled at England following the match. 

The other two are "disturbance caused by supporters during the national anthem" – England fans booed the Danish national anthem – and "lighting of fireworks by supporters," – in England’s case, inside of Wembley. The case will be dealt with by the Uefa Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body "in due course."

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That was not the end of the controversy around the goal either, with there being a second ball on the pitch when Sterling collected the ball at the start of the move that led to him winning the penalty. The incident drew plenty of ire from the Danish press on Thursday, who complained about play being allowed to continue.

Referees usually stop play in accordance with the laws of the game if there are two balls on the field, although can use their discretion and ignore if the ball is not interfering with play. 

However, on this occasion the stray ball was in the vicinity of Sterling and the Denmark defenders and could conceivably be said to be causing a distraction. 

The ball loiters close to the corner

Credit: ITV

Should play have been stopped?

Credit: ITV Sport

What was peculiar about the incident is that no Denmark player appealed or tried to catch the attention of referee Danny Makkelie. 

Last season, Luton Town were aggrieved that a Chelsea goal was allowed to stand in an FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge due to two balls being on the pitch. 

Liverpool famously conceded a goal at Sunderland in 2009 via a deflection off a beach ball thrown on to the pitch from 16-year-old supporter Callum Campbell. Referee Mike Jones should have disallowed the goal due to the influence of an "outside agent" on the pitch, but it was allowed to stand.  

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