The audio recording of the discussion between the match officials that led to Luis Diaz’s goal being wrongly disallowed has been made public, and makes for embarrassing listening for the VAR officials.
Liverpool forward Diaz scored in the first half of the Reds' 2-1 Premier League defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday but was incorrectly adjudged to have been offside by the on-field official.
The decision was not over-ruled by VAR officials Darren England and his assistant Daniel Cook, despite images clearly showing Diaz was onside.
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”.
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.
“Offside, goal, yeah. That’s wrong that, Daz,” Cook is heard saying.
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 made clear their anger after the match, issuing a statement claiming “sporting integrity has been undermined”, before adding adding they would "explore the range of options available" to them.
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.
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 that 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.
England and Cook have come under further scrutiny since Saturday after it was reported they were part of a refereeing team in the UAE two days before the Tottenham-Liverpool match.
The National has reached out to the UAE FA for comment on whether the furore will impact their decisions to fly over referees to officiate domestic matches.
PGMOL added: “PGMOL and the FA [Football Association] have also agreed to review the policy to allow match officials to officiate matches outside of Fifa or Uefa appointments.”