VAR is now at a “crisis point”, according to pundit and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher.
Liverpool had a Luis Diaz goal incorrectly ruled out for offside during Saturday’s Premier League defeat at Tottenham due to miscommunication between VAR Darren England and on-field referee Simon Hooper.
The match was goalless at the time of the incident, with the Reds – who were eventually reduced to nine men – going on to lose 2-1 to an own goal from Joel Matip deep into stoppage time.
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 2, 2023
Liverpool issued a statement on Sunday night saying they would “explore the range of options available given the clear need for escalation and resolution”.
The PA news agency understands the Reds have now formally requested the audio of the conversation between the two from referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL).
Former Liverpool and England defender Carragher was analysing the incident ahead of Monday night’s live Premier League game between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage.
The Sky Sports pundit believes the whole system is now under more pressure than ever.
Liverpool Football Club acknowledges PGMOL’s admission of their failures last night.
It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 1, 2023
“I don’t think the feeling around VAR has ever been lower – I do feel as if this is almost like a crisis point for VAR in this country,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“It is not just on the back of this decision, it is what has been happening all season, like when there was a situation with Wolves against Manchester United (in the first Monday night televised match of the new season).
“I don’t want to pile on to an official or (PGMOL chief refereeing officer) Howard Webb, I could imagine they feel absolutely awful (over) the last couple of days.
“I am not into the conspiracy theories, that this one favours that team or another – no-one gains anything from this in terms of the officials.
“We have all been there in our jobs and made mistakes, so I feel for them – but it is an horrendous mistake, that is unprecedented and you can’t actually quite believe the explanation that has been given.”
Following Tottenham Hotspur's 2-1 win over Liverpool, PGMOL have acknowledged that the Video Assistant Referee made a "significant error" in not overturning a decision that awarded Luis Diaz as offside after scoring in the first half of the match.
— Premier League Communications (@PLComms) September 30, 2023
PGMOL issued a statement on Saturday night acknowledging a “significant error” had occurred. Hooper and his assistants had given offside against Diaz on the field, and PA understands that although England followed the correct procedure in drawing lines, he lost focus and mistakenly thought the initial on-field decision had been onside.
This resulted in him issuing a ‘check complete’ notice to Hooper, rather than advising of an intervention and the goal being awarded.
Once the officials realised an error had been made, play had restarted and VAR protocols state that once that has happened, there is no way back to revisit a decision.
Carragher, though, believes the incident could have been quickly resolved at the time.
“They were saying they were staying with protocol about not allowing to stop the game. I don’t believe that. They panicked. They froze,” he said.
“I know that’s the rule, but that’s a red-tape rule. If they had reversed it, we’d have been praising their leadership.
“There’s talk that the officials didn’t know until half-time that a mistake had been made, when that ball goes out of play [after the incident] the look on that referee’s face, it’s a look of something has gone wrong.
“I think it’s unbelievable that all the parties involved haven’t released the audio. I find it unfathomable.
“The only way Howard Webb and PGMOL will gain any sort of credibility back was to get it out there.
“The problem they have now is the explanation is so random and bizarre, the longer this goes on, the more people will think they’re trying to put a story together.”