VARs at centre of Liverpool error returning to duty this weekend

VARs at centre of Liverpool error returning to duty this weekend
Referee Darren England, © PA Wire/PA Images

VARs Darren England and Daniel Cook will return to Premier League duty this weekend following their error in last month’s fixture between Tottenham and Liverpool.

England and Cook were the VAR and VAR assistant respectively when Liverpool forward Luis Diaz’s goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside in Tottenham’s 2-1 home win.

Both officials were stood down the following week, but England will be back as the fourth official for Brentford’s home game against Burnley on Saturday and Cook will return as assistant referee for Sheffield United’s home match against Manchester United.



Miscommunication between VAR England and referee Simon Hooper led to Diaz’s goal being wrongly ruled out on September 30, with the incident later described by referees’ chief Howard Webb as “a clear error”.

Hooper is the designated VAR for Newcastle’s home game against Crystal Palace on Saturday.

New VAR guidelines were introduced in the wake of the Diaz disallowed goal controversy, while audio of the incident was later released.


England mistakenly thought the on-field officials had ruled Diaz to be onside, which meant that when he told them ‘check complete’ they believed he had upheld their on-field decision and restarted play with a free-kick.

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk appears dejected after his side's recent 2-1 defeat at Tottenham
Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk appears dejected after his side’s recent 2-1 defeat at Tottenham. Photo: John Walton/PA.

Once play had restarted, there was nothing the VARs could do to revisit the decision under existing protocols.


Referees’ body Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) said it would develop a new VAR communication protocol in an effort to avoid similar mistakes being made in future.

PGMOL said the protocol would “enhance the clarity of communication between the referee and the VAR team in relation to on-field decisions”.

VARs will now also confirm the outcome of the checking process with the assistant VAR before confirming the final decision to the on-field officials.

Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic was fortunate not to be sent off in his side's defeat at Arsenal
Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic was ‘fortunate’ not to be sent off in his side’s defeat at Arsenal. Photo: John Walton/PA.

One of the talking points from the latest round of fixtures was referee Michael Oliver’s decision not to send off Manchester City’s Mateo Kovacic for a challenge on Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard.

The City midfielder was shown a yellow card before avoiding another shortly afterwards and Webb later admitted Kovacic was “fortunate” to stay on the pitch.

Oliver will referee Sheffield United’s home game against Manchester United on Saturday.

By Mark Walker, PA Sport

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