Following Luis Diaz’ wrongly disallowed goal against Tottenham on Saturday that saw a miscommunication between VAR and the on-field officials lead to an onside goal being ruled offside, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) have released full audio of the incident as per Liverpool’s demands.
Audio of the incident both largely corroborates the PGMOL’s previous explanations of the VAR error and manages to be a truly shocking display of individual mistakes cascading within a system that almost seems designed to fail.
The lack of the use of communication protocols and clear, standardised language to communicate the decision on the pitch, the decision as it’s being examined by the VAR room, and the final decision of the VAR room and what the result of that decision should be is perhaps the biggest, most important, and most downright shocking takeaway.
The ideas of Crew Resource Management are common throughout industries where quickly taken, high-pressure decisions need to be made and information co-ordinated between multiple people with the wrong result potentially worth millions—or likely to cost lives.
Getting decisions like these wrong in Premier League football is clearly on the side of costing money and not lives, but given the potential financial consequences on the line it’s genuinely shocking that we’re at this point in the life of VAR in England and the system appears to be that there is no system.
Other noteworthy moments:
- The replay operator, the one person in the VAR room or on the pitch who wasn’t a qualified referee, was the first to notice a significant error had occurred. He called for the game to be stopped less than three seconds after the game had been re-started.
- Moments later, VAR Hub Ops Executive Oli Kohout called in from PGMOL offices asking the VAR team to delay the game. Despite a growing realisation of the extent of the error, the request was denied by VAR lead Darren England, a decision supported by VAR assistant Dan Cook.
- VAR assistant Dan Cook is not heard in the audio until after the replay operator spots the error, with his first contribution being to wave away his concerns and insist there is no issue.
Assistant Referee 1: All good. Both holding, both holding.
Referee (Simon Hooper): Yeah, leave it alone.
Assistant Referee 1: Waiting. Delaying, delaying.
VAR (Darren England): Possible offside, Diaz.
Assistant Referee 2: Give it.
Assistant Referee 1: Coming back for the offside, mate.
VAR: Just checking the offside. Delay, delay.
VAR: Give the kick point, let’s go. Kick point please?
Referee: Yeah, no worries mate.
Replay operator: So, here we are.
Replay Operator: Just get a tight angle.
VAR: Yeah, give me a a 2D line ready after this one for frame two after that.
Replay Operator: So frame two there?
VAR: That’s fine. Perfect, yeah. 2D line on the left boot.
Replay Operator: Let me just switch angles.
VAR: Romero, I think it is?
Replay Operator: I think it might be this angle better? Happy with this angle?
Replay Operator: 2D line on the boot?
VAR: 2D line on the boot.
Replay Operator: Yep, OK. So, 2D line on the boot.
VAR: And stop.
[VAR confirms Diaz onside]
VAR: Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect.
Assistant Referee 1: Playing.
Referee: Cheers mate.
VAR: Thank you mate.
Referee: Well done boys, good process.
Replay Operator: Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR (Dan Cook): Yeah.
Replay Operator: Are you happy with this?
Assistant VAR: Offside, goal, yeah.
Assistant VAR: That’s wrong that, Daz.
Replay Operator: Onfield decision was offside.
Replay Operator: Are you happy with this image? The image that we gave them is onside.
Assistant VAR: He’s played him, he’s gone offside.
VAR: Oh *expletive*
Replay operator: Delay, delay.
Replay Operator: Oli (VAR Hub Ops Executive Oli Kohout) is saying to delay. Oli’s saying to delay.
Replay Operator: Oli’s calling in to say delay the game. The decision is onside.
VAR: Can’t do anything.
Replay Operator: Oli’s saying to delay.
Fourth official: Yeah?
Replay Operator: Delay the game, to delay the game. Stop the game.
VAR: They’ve restarted the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything.
Assistant VAR: Yeah, they’ve restarted. Yeah. No.
VAR: I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything.