Image exposes ‘absolute disgrace’
HE shares a name with a WWE legend and Harry Kane found himself in a wrestling match during England's 2-1 win over Tunisia in its World Cup opener on Tuesday morning (AEST).
With England posing a regular threat at set pieces in the first half, the Tunisian defence decided to take matters into its own hands to ensure the 188cm striker couldn't score.
Kane was comically brought down in the 39th minute after England had swung a free kick into the box.
That it came minutes after Tunisia was awarded a penalty following Kyle Walker's brain snap, where he raised his arms and collected an opponent in the head while preparing to compete in an aerial challenge, only added to England's anger.
Asked about the incident at half-time, ex-England striker Alan Shearer said: "There's no difference whatsoever (between the two penalty calls), if you give one you're going to end up getting eight or nine pens per game.
"He's not even looking at the ball. That's worse than the one that was given against England."
Former England star Jermaine Jenas was also angered.
"Harry Kane has been wrestled to the ground," he said.
Ex-England international Chris Waddle weighed in on the controversy: "This is the best tournament in the world, (it's an) absolute disgrace!"
More former England stars including Gary Lineker and Ian Wright were also outraged by Kane's treatment.
Former Socceroo Craig Foster said the referee had missed a blatant penalty.
"I thought that it was a penalty. What happens here is he (the defender) turns his back and he is wrestling Kane. Kane is trying to get to the ball and this guy is trying to get to Kane," he said.
"As soon as a defender turns his back and his only thought, it is no longer the ball, it is just to stop you getting the ball and he (Kane) goes down, which he has every right to do, it is a penalty."
Former Premier League and A-League star Michael Bridges was furious the first-half incident didn't go to the VAR for a review.
"Just look at this, he's not even watching the ball. He's manhandled," Bridges said.
"That's a blatant penalty and how that's never gone to the VAR and the incident against Walker has (is inexplicable).
"How that never got flagged I will never know."
Speaking after the match, Kane took a subtle dig at the Tunisians by saying the result was "justice" for some questionable tactics.
"There could have been a couple of penalties, especially when you look at their one, which looked quite soft," Kane said.
"The VAR is there to look at those decisions. If they don't think it's a penalty, we have to deal with it, but I struggled to get the Tunisia players off me all night. They were trying to grab hold, trying to stop us running, I couldn't move at set pieces. So maybe there was a bit of justice at the end to get one at the back post.
"For sure, the tactics Tunisia used were a lesson for us. It's part of the game. We knew, watching the other matches, there have been a lot of soft decisions and penalties awarded, so we had to be aware of that. I'm just so proud we kept going, kept on fighting, and made people back home proud."
England fans on social media joined the chorus of condemnation as they suggested the Tunisians would have been better off in the wrestling ring.
One theory was a foul by John Stones earlier in the passage negated what happened to Kane.
The fury only intensified when a similar incident occurred in the second half, although it didn't look as egregious a foul.
Tunisian defender Yesine Meriah tangled with the Tottenham ace but the referee appeared to indicate he thought Kane had gone down too easily.
It's the latest controversy in a tournament that has been dominated by discussion about video review.
Australian fans have been reacting to every close penalty call that hasn't been enforced by VAR with chagrin after Josh Risdon's punishment in a 2-1 defeat against France.
Fortunately for the Three Lions it didn't cost them after Kane shrugged off his disappointment to head home a winner - his second goal of the match - deep into stoppage time to help England escape with the three points.
England plays Panama on Sunday after Belgium defeated the Central American nation 3-0 on Monday night (AEST).