England Charged After Laser Pointed at Danish Goalkeeper

UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, has charged the English Football Association after video showed a laser being pointed at Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel at a crucial moment in the Euro 2020 semi-final.

Published Jul 8, 2021

Denmark's goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel applauds during the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final football match between England and Denmark at Wembley Stadium in London on July 7, 2021. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LAURENCE GRIFFITHS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) (Laurence Griffiths/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via Laurence Griffiths/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), soccer's governing body in Europe, has opened disciplinary proceedings against the English FA (Football Association), after video footage strongly suggested English supporters aimed a laser pen at Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel during England's penalty kick in the dying minutes of the Euro 2020 semi-final in London on July 7, 2021.

Schmeichel was preparing to save the penalty, taken by England captain Harry Kane, in the 24th minute of a 30-minute period of extra time, when television cameras captured what appeared to be a green laser beam flickering around his eyes. Schmeichel ultimately saved the penalty, but spilled the ball into the path of Kane, who scored on the rebound. England won 2-1, sending them into their first major tournament final since they won the World Cup in 1966.

The green laser pen was revealed after the match, with British broadcaster ITV referring to it in their coverage of the match, and posting the following screenshot:

Danish fans already had reasons to be aggrieved by the awarding of the penalty in the first place, given that a second ball was on the field of play during the build-up, which under the laws of the game typically requires the referee to stop play temporarily, and that Danish defender Joakim Mæhle made minimal contact with English forward Raheem Sterling. 

Now UEFA, the sport's governing body in Europe and the organizer of the Euro 2020 tournament, has announced it is charging the FA with a several breaches of disciplinary regulations, including one related to the laser pen incident.

In a news release on July 8, UEFA wrote that:

Disciplinary proceedings have been opened following the UEFA EURO 2020 semi-final match between England and Denmark (2-1), played on 7 July at Wembley Stadium, London.

Charges against The Football Association:

• Use of laser pointer by its supporters - Article 16(2)(d) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations (DR)

• Disturbance caused by its supporters during the national anthem - Article 16(2)(g) DR

• Lighting of fireworks by its supporters - Article 16(2)(c) DR

Some England supporters have repeatedly booed the national anthems of their team's opponents throughout the tournament, and did so again before the semi-final against Denmark, prompting a charge of violating Article 16(2)(g) of UEFA's disciplinary regulations, which states that member associations (such as the English FA) can be held responsible, and subjected to disciplinary measures, if their fans "[cause] a disturbance during national anthems."

Similarly, Article 16(2)(d) states that members associations can be held liable, and disciplined, if its supporters engage in "the use of laser pointers or similar electronic devices." 

According to UEFA's disciplinary regulations, the standard punishment for a first offense involving the use of a laser pointer is a fine of €8,000 ($9,487). UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Board can scale that punishment up or down, based on aggravating and mitigating factors, and might take into account the fact that Schmeichel was targeted with a laser at a moment that had the potential to be decisive in the outcome of the match. However, it appears unlikely the incident will result in a more severe form of punishment. 

For its part, the English FA told Snopes it first became aware of reports that a laser pointer was being used in the stadium during the first half of extra time, and that its officials had, along with their counterparts in UEFA, searched for the source of the device, without success. The FA insisted that anyone found with a laser device inside Wembley would be removed from the stadium.

According to the FA, a representative from DBU (Danske Boldspil-Union, the Danish football association) told UEFA they did not wish to make an official complaint about the laser incident. Snopes submitted several questions about the incident to the DBU, but we did not receive a response in time for publication.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.

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