MARK HALSEY: BETDAQ World Cup Ambassador and former FIFA and Premier League referee Mark Halsey discusses the latest refereeing decisions in the World Cup, and looks ahead to England’s quarter-final date with current champions France.

England yellow card record may end against France

England remain the only side in the competition not to have received a booking, and I think this discipline is down to Gareth [Southgate]. Obviously if you’re picking up cautions then you’re at risk of being suspended for one game, so they’ve done exceptionally well. Perhaps against Senegal there was the suggestion that they could have received the odd yellow card, but credit for the referee for using his common sense – not every challenge is a yellow card!

The team discipline towards the latter stages of the competition may waver a tad because of the increase in tempo, so referees have to stamp their authority on the game a little bit more because they don’t want to lose control of the game. I think England’s yellow card record could end this weekend, they just need to make sure it doesn’t affect the way they execute their gameplan.

I don’t think Gareth will go out and tell his players to pick up yellow cards, that won’t happen, but once you’re on the field of play then things can happen, and they could lose their discipline. If they feel like they need to commit a challenge that benefits the team, then so be it!

With regards to Mbappe, they need to be aware of his positioning and his movement. Whoever is picking him up and marking him, they just need to stay on him. If England are not on their game from the first whistle, then they will lose. They can’t carry any passengers.

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Communication between VAR and fans not good enough

I think the standard of officiating this World Cup has generally been very good – they’ve let the game flow and breathe, and they haven’t rushed in with cautions – they’ve managed the game well. But if there’s one downside, it’s that VAR has been inconsistent. The communication needs to be better – nobody knows what’s going on in the stadium. The fans are just as important as anybody else in football, so they need to know.

A criticism of VAR is that, at the time, they didn’t give us definitive pictures of the third goal between Japan and Spain. If you look at that incident on the field, then it looks like it’s out of play, but if you look at it from a height, the circumference of the ball is just on the line – that’s in play!

The problem was that FIFA and VAR never gave us a definitive angle, which would have put the issue to bed. Instead, it rumbled on into the evening and into the next day until finally they came up with the definitive angle. That should have been on display straight away! They’ve got to let the fans know in the stadium what’s being checked and why it’s being checked.

Stéphanie Frappart can hold her head high after making history

I thought Stéphanie conducted herself very well. People say that players behave differently to a female referee, but that’s not the case at all – it’s the uniform. Stephanie is very, very experienced, and I think she handled the game [Costa Rica v Germany] very well. There were no reviews and there were no controversies, and that’s what you want as a referee at the highest level, you want to come out of the game without any controversy.

She can hold her head up high because I thought she refereed the game very impressively; she let the game flow, she was aware of what was going on around her, and she let the game breathe.

She deserves to be there because of her performances, not just in the French League but in the Europa League and the Champions League. It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, if you are good enough then the cream will always rise to the top!

FIFA and top-level referees have to take more responsibility in how they deal with players’ actions

The Edinson Cavani penalty shout led to the incidents we saw with the referee after the game [Ghana v Uruguay]. You cannot condone those actions, I thought it was very poor. Referees at the highest level have got to take on more responsibility in terms of how they deal with players on the field, especially with reckless challenges, violent conduct and dissent. If people see the best players in the world get away with things on the biggest stage in the world then it makes it more difficult for the grassroots referees.

It’s pleasing to see that FIFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against the players and the Uruguayan Federation. You see Cavani when he comes off – he just smashes the TV monitor to the ground. I think they should be penalised heavily, because you cannot be having those scenes when you’ve got millions of people, including children, watching the events unfold. When you see them acting like they did, FIFA need to come down hard on them for their actions.

Otherwise, it transcends into the grassroots level when the referees are on their own, without any security. Grassroots players will see that incident and think they can get away with that. We have to stamp this out, and the FA must do more to protect the grassroots referees.

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