VAR audio released after blunder over Diaz's disallowed goal

AFP , Tuesday 3 Oct 2023

English referee chiefs have made public the VAR audio of the decision that led to Liverpool forward Luis Diaz having a goal wrongly disallowed in the Reds' controversial defeat at Tottenham.

West Ham United s Moroccan defender #27 Nayef Aguerd (L) vies with Liverpool s Colombian midfielder
West Ham United s Moroccan defender #27 Nayef Aguerd (L) vies with Liverpool s Colombian midfielder #07 Luis Diaz (R) during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on September 24, 2023. AFP


VAR official Darren England and his assistant (AVAR) Daniel Cook did not over-rule the incorrect on-field decision of offside after Diaz had scored what would have been the opening of Saturday's Premier League clash in north London.

Liverpool went on to lose 2-1 and had Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota sent off as their unbeaten start to the season came to an end.

Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) released a statement admitting a "significant human error" had led to the wrong decision being made.

But Liverpool were furious with the blunder and said on Sunday they would explore their options given the "clear need for escalation and resolution"

PGMOL have provided a detailed report alongside the audio to the Premier League, which has in turn shared with Liverpool and the other 19 top-flight clubs.

The audio reveals the conversation between the VAR officials, who initially think they have made the right decision to disallow the goal and only realise their error after the match has restarted.

The referees body said in a statement on Tuesday that "standards fell short of expectations" and it has identified three key learnings "to mitigate against the risk of a future error".

They will stress the importance of accuracy ahead of efficiency to video match officials, while a "new VAR communication protocol will be developed to enhance the clarity of communication between the referee and the VAR team in relation to on-field decisions".

"As an additional step to the process, the VAR will confirm the outcome of the VAR check process with the AVAR before confirming the final decision to the on-field officials," the statement said.

"We recognise standards fell short of expectations and acknowledged the error to Liverpool immediately after the conclusion of the fixture."

'Systemic weaknesses

England and Cook have not been included among the officials for duty in the coming weekend's Premier League fixtures.

The pair had already been replaced for the remainder of their matchweek seven duties.

England was due to be fourth official at Nottingham Forest against Brentford on Sunday, with Cook scheduled to be assistant referee for Monday's Fulham versus Chelsea clash.

Premier League chiefs admitted human error and systemic weaknesses had contributed to the costly mistake.

Calling for "higher standards" in VAR decision-making, a Premier League spokesperson said: "Having reviewed all relevant footage of the disallowed Luis Diaz goal during the Tottenham Hotspur FC versus Liverpool FC match on Saturday, and PGMOL's report into the incident, 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."

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