VAR officials behind Liverpool error were in UAE 48 hours earlier: report
A review into English-based match officials being paid for one-off appearances in other domestic leagues could take place after a controversial VAR error denied Liverpool a goal in a 2-1 defeat by Tottenham.
Referees’ body the PGMOL admitted a “significant human error” had meant Luis Diaz’s strike, when Saturday’s game was level at 0-0, was not awarded by a VAR review after being flagged offside.
PGMOL chief Howard Webb also reached out to apologise to Liverpool on Saturday evening.
The match officials at fault for the mistake were stood down from duty for the rest of the Premier League weekend.
The Times reported Monday the officials involved were working in the UAE just 48 hours earlier, with Darren England the VAR for the match between Sharjah and Al-Ain in the UAE Pro League last Thursday, with Dan Cook as assistant referee.
Meanwhile, Gary Neville accused Liverpool of using “dangerous phrases” in saying “sporting integrity” had been undermined by the botched decision.
Neville lauded Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp for his post-match response after a defeat that prevented the Merseysiders from going top of the table.
But he was unhappy with a Liverpool statement issued on Sunday that said: “It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined.”
Liverpool added they would now explore their options “given the clear need for escalation and resolution”.
– ‘Vague and aggressive’ –
But leading pundit Neville, who played for Liverpool’s arch-rivals Manchester United, said the club’s statement risked forfeiting any support the Reds had from supporters of other clubs.
“Jurgen Klopp handled the situation well last night after the game,” Neville said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, late Sunday.
“Most football fans will have had empathy with what happened and recognised it was wrong!” the former England defender added.
“However Liverpool’s statement tonight is a mistake! Talk of exploring all options (what does that mean!!!) and sporting integrity are dangerous phrases along with being vague and aggressive.
“Sorry we f@@@@d up was enough!!…Sorry should be respected and not undervalued. This is a snap reaction that can always be wrong but I feel strongly about it.”
Sunday’s match in north London was an incident-packed contest, with Liverpool’s Curtis Jones shown a straight red card after just 26 minutes when the VAR officials intervened to instruct an on-field review for his challenge on Yves Bissouma.
Liverpool should still have taken the lead when Diaz’s strike found the far corner and replays showed he had been played onside by Cristian Romero.
The visitors’ fury was compounded when Spurs took the lead moments later through Son Heung-min.
The 10 men fought back to level at 1-1 before half-time through Cody Gakpo.
But Liverpool were then reduced to nine men for the final 20 minutes when Diogo Jota was sent off for a second bookable offence.
The Reds still nearly held out for a remarkable point until Joel Matip’s 96th-minute own goal handed Spurs victory.
“I never saw a game like this with the most unfair circumstances, crazy decisions,” said Liverpool manager Klopp.
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