The audio recording of the discussion between the match officials that led to Luis Diaz’s goal being wrongly disallowed has been made public, with VAR Darren England swearing twice upon being told of his mistake.
Diaz was incorrectly adjudged to have been offside on the field after netting in the first half of Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham on Saturday, a decision which was not over-ruled by England and his assistant Daniel Cook.
Liverpool asked for a recording of what happened and Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has taken the step to publicly release the communication into how the bungled verdict was reached.
PGMOL said England “lost sight of the on-field decision” due to “a lapse of concentration and loss of focus”.
PGMOL can confirm that we have carried out a review into the circumstances which led to the Luis Diaz goal being incorrectly disallowed for offside in the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC.
Full statement and the audio between the on-field team… pic.twitter.com/j1YKK1gAzH
— PGMOL (@FA_PGMOL) October 3, 2023
In the recording, England says “check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect” before the replay operator and then Cook question whether the correct decision has been made.
England swears upon realising the error and then says “they’ve restarted the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything” as the replay operator makes repeated calls to delay the match.
England then issues another expletive before the tape finishes, the end of an incident in which PGMOL, the referees’ body, admitted immediately after the match that a “significant human error” had occurred.
Liverpool said “sporting integrity has been undermined”, while they released a statement the following day indicating they would explore their options given the “clear need for escalation and resolution”.
PGMOL said in a statement accompanying the audio: “After the on-field officials had disallowed the goal for offside, the checking phase and process started and was carried out correctly by the VAR.
“In a lapse of concentration and loss of focus in that moment, the VAR lost sight of the on-field decision and he incorrectly communicated ‘check complete’, therefore inadvertently confirming the on-field decision. He did this without any dialogue with the AVAR (assistant VAR).
“The match then restarted immediately. After a few seconds, the replay operator and then the AVAR queried the check-complete outcome with the VAR and asked him to review the image that had been created, pointing out that the original on-field decision had been offside, but this was not communicated to the on-field team at any point during the match.
“The VAR team then gave consideration as to whether the game could be stopped at that point, however the VAR and AVAR concluded that the VAR protocol within the laws of the game would not permit that to happen, and they decided intervention was not possible as play had restarted.”
England and Cook have not been included among the officials for duty in the coming weekend’s Premier League fixtures.
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
The pair had already been replaced for the remainder of their matchweek seven duties – England was due to be fourth official at Nottingham Forest v Brentford on Sunday, with Cook scheduled to be assistant referee for Monday’s Fulham-Chelsea clash.
PGMOL has vowed to learn from this incident, stressing accuracy over all else, including efficiency, to its video match officials and, from now on, a VAR must confer with their AVAR in the check process before relaying the final decision to the on-field officials.
The Premier League announced a wider review of VAR, amid scathing criticism in the fallout of what happened at the weekend, is set to be held in conjunction with the PGMOL.
A Premier League spokesperson said: “It is clear that there were not only human errors but systemic weaknesses in the VAR process. We accept PGMOL’s immediate recommendations to ensure that such failures are not repeated in the future.
“However, a wider review to seek consistently higher standards of VAR performance will be conducted by the Premier League and PGMOL, supported by other stakeholders, and where necessary further recommended actions will be brought forward and implemented.
“We have communicated fully with Liverpool FC on this matter and have shared PGMOL’s findings and relevant footage of the incident with all Premier League clubs.”
England and Cook have come under further scrutiny since Saturday after it was reported they were part of a refereeing team in the United Arab Emirates two days before the Tottenham-Liverpool match.
PGMOL added: “PGMOL and The FA have also agreed to review the policy to allow match officials to officiate matches outside of FIFA or UEFA appointments.”