Nearly 72 hours after Liverpool’s controversial defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, the fallout continues.
A review of the errors that led to Luis Diaz’s goal being ruled out for offside is currently underway, with VAR Darren England and VAR assistant Dan Cook, who failed to overturn the decision on the pitch after replays showed the Colombian was offside, having been ruled out of the match. List of referees for the next round of the English Premier League.
Referee management body PGMOL has sent Liverpool the audio recording of Sunday’s exchanges between referee Simon Hooper and those in the VAR room at Stockley Park, which the club will now review.
In a strongly worded statement on Sunday, Liverpool said sporting integrity had been “undermined” and said they would “explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution”.
But what were Liverpool hoping to achieve with this statement and what kind of decision would satisfy them? The athlete I contacted a number of senior figures at the club – who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their positions – to get a clearer idea of the answers to these questions.
Do they want a replay?
No, Liverpool fully accepts the result of Saturday’s match. They lost 2-1 after Joel Matip’s own goal in stoppage time after being reduced to nine men following red cards for Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota. This will not change. Despite all the hype on social media, there has been no call for a rematch and there will be no call for a rematch.
So what do they want?
Liverpool want a transparent investigation into procedural failings so lessons can be learned for the future.
Their immediate priorities are to decide what form the review will take, who will oversee it, and what role the Premier League will play in it. The audio should provide a clearer understanding of how and why Diaz’s goal was disallowed.
They want to know why the decision was made so quickly and why there was no intervention when the confusion quickly became apparent.
Is their anger directed at Darren England?
No, in their statement, Liverpool tried to shift the focus away from VAR itself and were not satisfied with PGMOL blaming “significant human error”.
Liverpool insist it is about their focus on the process rather than the individual. The Laws of the Game were not applied and the correct result could not be reached due to a failure of VAR protocols.
Liverpool insist it would be grossly unfair to blame England, who wrongly believed the goal had been awarded on the pitch and told Hooper to “check completion” after drawing the lines and confirming Diaz was on the pitch.
Liverpool VAR controversy: What are their legal options?
What about the rulers’ trip to the Emirates?
England, Cook and fourth official Michael Oliver were on Saturday on duty in the United Arab Emirates just 48 hours before Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham.
Liverpool believe work engagements in the lead-up to Saturday’s game should be examined as part of the review amid concerns about the impact of fatigue on officials due to long-distance travel and whether it affects their preparations.
The trio only returned to London on Friday after an eight-hour trip following Sharjah’s match against Al Ain, a lucrative trip that was approved by the Football Association.
It is common for English referees to officiate UEFA competitions in midweek and then return to the Premier League the following weekend, but this was further along than that.
There is also a potential conflict of interest if referees are carrying out independent work in countries with close ties to Premier League clubs – Manchester City’s owner, Sheikh Mansour, is vice-president and deputy prime minister of the UAE, although City insist they are not nation. Owned.
But Liverpool’s focus is on the impact of too much travel close to Saturday’s game and whether this impairs the refereeing.
Are English Premier League referees independent in the UAE and Saudi Arabia? Webb has gotten himself into a tangle
Does Liverpool’s frustration stem from previous disagreements with officials?
Liverpool insist their response has only been shaped by Saturday’s incident and they have offered nothing further in it.
There was “complete harmony” behind the scenes when it came to drafting and presenting a statement on Sunday, with Jurgen Klopp and the owners agreeing that the club needed to take a stand given it was an unprecedented situation. PGMOL chairman Howard Webb has contacted senior figures at Liverpool since Saturday to apologize for the mistakes they made.
What about all the other teams that have suffered from VAR errors?
Liverpool insist it’s not just about them. They do not ask for special treatment. They believe that a fully transparent review that leads to improvements in the VAR process will benefit all clubs and help ensure a similar situation does not occur again.
(Top images: Getty Images)
“Travel aficionado. Infuriatingly humble reader. Incurable internet specialist.”