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The Rise of VAR in the Premier League: How Liverpool Has Adapted

After the controversial VAR decision during the Liverpool match, VARs are back on Premier League duty. Find out how they are working to avoid similar errors.

Premier League VAR signs, Source : Shutterstock/ George Monie

After the controversial VAR decision during the Liverpool match, VARs are back on Premier League duty. 

During a Premier League match, a controversial decision involvement resulted in Liverpool being denied a goal against Tottenham Hotspur last month. Video Assistant Referee (VAR) officials Darren England and Dan Cook are set to return for the upcoming weekend’s fixtures. Because of this incident, they were temporarily replaced for two matches and were also excluded from the previous round of games.

In the upcoming matches, Darren England will assume the position of fourth official for Brentford’s home game against Burnley. At the same time, Dan Cook will work as an assistant referee in the match featuring Manchester United and Sheffield United.

VAR Controversy in Liverpool vs. Tottenham Match

On September 30th, Liverpool faced a challenging match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, with only nine players on the field. 

They suffered a 2-1 loss despite their immense efforts, marked by a late own goal by Joel Matip. Notably, Liverpool had an opportunity to seize the lead in the first half when Luis Díaz netted a goal. However, their jubilation was short-lived as the linesman raised the offside flag, nullifying the goal.

In this particular scenario, VAR official Darren England made an initial signal that the on-field decision was a “goal.” However, he swiftly recognized that Díaz was on his side. Unfortunately, a critical error occurred when he mistakenly relayed to the referee that the “check was complete,” creating a misleading impression that the offside decision was accurate. This sequence of events underscores the pressing need for a more comprehensive and precise communication process within the VAR system.

PGMOL and FA Announce Referee Overseas Match Review

The incorrect decision, which led to the disallowed goal, prompted the English referees’ organization, PGMOL, to release a statement admitting to a “significant human error.”

Following this, Liverpool released a statement asserting that this mistake had undermined the integrity of the sport. Their manager, Jurgen Klopp, went a step further the following week, expressing that a rematch should be the only fair resolution, not only in his capacity as Liverpool’s manager but also as a devoted football enthusiast.

Acknowledging that their standards had fallen short of expectations, PGMOL released the audio recording of the VAR discussion. Both PGMOL and the English Football Association announced a review of the practice of referees overseeing matches in foreign leagues during midweek. 

It’s worth noting that England was part of a team of English officials who officiated a game in the United Arab Emirates just 28 hours before the Spurs-Liverpool fixture.

The Independent Key Match Incidents Panel’s Assessment

The Independent Key Match Incidents Panel of the Premier League declared during the second half of the match that the red card handed to Diogo Jota was unjustified. Curtis Jones had already received a straight red card. Subsequently, Jota received two yellow cards in just over a minute, both for challenges on Spurs defender Destiny Udogie.

As per the assessment of referee Simon Hooper, he reviewed the events over seven weeks, and the panel has determined that the second tackle on Udogie in the 69th minute did not warrant a yellow card. The report pointed out that “the majority of panel members deemed the decision to be incorrect, as they believed it did not meet the criteria for a yellow card,” with a 3-2 majority vote against the booking.

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