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Every VAR apology so far: From Liverpool offside to Man City handball

Liverpool have said there is a ‘clear need for escalation and resolution’ after Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal become the latest major VAR error to hit the Premier League

Jamie Braidwood
Monday 02 October 2023 11:52 BST
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Alan Shearer gives blunt VAR verdict after Liverpool’s loss to Tottenham

Liverpool have vowed to “explore every option available” after VAR failed to overturn Luis Diaz’s wrongly disallowed goal in Saturday’s defeat to Tottenham, in what the club described as an “unacceptable” error.

The referees’ body PGMOL admitted VAR officials Darren England and Dan Cook failed to act after Diaz’s 34th-minute strike at Tottenham was wrongly ruled out for offside, with chief Howard Webb later apologising to Liverpool after the match.

England and Cook were then stood down from duty from the rest of the weekend’s fixtures, while questions have also been asked after the pair took charge of a league match in the United Arab Emirates in midweek.

A statement from Liverpool later read: “It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined.”

While the “significant human error” was undoubtedly the biggest mistake VAR has made since its introduction to the Premier League in 2019, it was not the first time a club have received an apology from PGMOL after a game. Here’s a run-through of every major incident that has led to an apology in the past two seasons.

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool

Luis Diaz’s goal for Liverpool at Tottenham was incorrectly ruled out for offside because the VAR checking the decision mistakenly thought that the on-field decision was onside.

The referees’ body, PGMOL, admitted after the match that a “significant human error” was made when checking Diaz’s goal.

VAR official Darren England drew the lines to check for offside and followed the process correctly to determine Diaz was onside for the goal.

But in reaching their decision, the VAR team failed to realise that on-field referee Simon Hooper and his assistant officials had initially ruled the goal out for offside.

Therefore, when the VAR relayed a message of “check complete” to the on-field referee, Hooper and his team disallowed Diaz’s goal and awarded a free-kick to Tottenham.

Howard Webb spoke to Liverpool after the match and there was an apology from the referees’ chief.

Manchester United 1-0 Wolves

Wolves manager Gary O’Neil received an apology from the Premier League after his team were denied a stoppage-time penalty in their 1-0 defeat to Manchester United. Andre Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic deep into time added on, but Simon Hooper did not react and VAR Michael Salisbury deemed there was no foul.

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton

Brighton received an apology from PGMOL due to the failure to award a spot-kick following Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s foul on Kaoru Mitoma. VAR official Michael Salisbury was dropped from the next round of Premier League  fixtures. Brighton also had two goals disallowed in the defeat.

Everton 0-1 Man City

Referees’ chief Mike Riley personally apologised to Everton manager Frank Lampard for mistakes made in a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in February 2023. Lampard blasted VAR official Chris Kavanagh for being a “professional who cannot do his job right” after the loss to the Premier League champions. Kavanagh failed to advise referee Paul Tierney over a handball by Rodri which would have given the Toffees a late chance of a penalty equaliser.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford

Arsenal received an apology after Ivan Toney’s equaliser was not fully checked by VAR. Lee Mason did not fully investigate an offside call against Christian Norgaard, who provided the assist for Toney’s leveller, with no lines drawn on the screen to determine whether the Denmark international should have been penalised. Mason left PGMOL by “mutual consent” the following week.

Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton

VAR John Brooks wrongly ruled out Pervis Estupinan’s opening goal after drawing the offside lines in the wrong place. The referee was then dropped from the next two Premier League fixtures.

Brighton 2-1 Liverpool

PGMOL accepted Fabinho should have been sent off for a challenge from behind on Brighton’s Evan Ferguson, which was only given as a yellow card despite a VAR review.

Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United

A review into Lucas Digne’s free kick in Aston Villa’s win against Manchester United concluded that the defending team’s wall was positioned too far back by referee Anthony Taylor. After the defeat, Erik ten Hag said: “I think the free-kick is stoppable because the wall is too far. Okay, a small detail but details make the difference in top football.”

(Getty Images)

Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace

The PGMOL accepted Newcastle had an own goal by Crystal Palace’s Tyrick Mitchel wrongly disallowed after Joe Willock was determined to have impeded goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham

On the same weekend, West Ham were denied a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge when Maxwel Cornet’s goal was ruled out, with Jarrod Bowen said to be impeding Edouard Mendy. PGMOL accepted the VAR had made an error - with Declan Rice saying it was “one of the worst VAR decisions since it came into the game”.

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