By Imanol Lopez
On Saturday, September 30th there was a Premier League football match played in the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in North London where they received Liverpool for a highly anticipated match of Football. The match was rather intense and filled with controversy due to multiple red cards being handed out to Liverpool throughout the match but that was not the reason for PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) Howard Webb to come out after the match and have a press release be put out in order to apologize to Liverpool for having a wrong decision being made which heavily influenced the match. In the 3o minute, Luis Diaz was put through on goal by a pass from Mohammed Salah which he would convert into the first goal of the match even though Liverpool was down to 10 men. It was called offside by the referee but then the VAR came into play to review it once again VAR made another mistake by failing to complete the protocol which led to the staff part of the VAR completely missing that Luis Diaz was onside and should have counted it as a goal.
“The image created showed that Luis Diaz was onside, without the need for the insertion of a second line. In a lapse of concentration and loss of focus at 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.”(Howard Webb) This would lead to a meltdown in the VAR room because the match had already gone on after the decision and would not allow the VAR staff to be able to stop the match and correct the wrong, they had just done. The audio of the VAR room would be requested by Liverpool which would be released to the public which would explain how such a catastrophic error would occur.
Liverpool would go on to lose the match 2-1 to a last-minute own goal from Joel Matip which would cause outrage from the Liverpool side because they felt as if they were robbed in the match due to being given two red cards and being taken a goal away from an unjust offside call. Jurgen Klopp would later go on to ask for a reply for the match due to the effect the offside goal would have on the match. “If not, I can say immediately, and probably some people don’t want me to say it, not as the manager of Liverpool but much more as a football person, I think the only outcome should be a replay. That’s how it is. It probably will not happen. The argument against that will probably be if you open that gate then everybody will ask for it. I think the situation is so unprecedented that a replay would be the right thing.”(Andy Hunter) At the end of the day, we have never seen a reply occur for a mistake from the VAR system since we saw this occur before last season in the match between Brentford and Arsenal where Brentford equalized late and forgot to use the lines once again to check if there was a possible offside and after the game, they made another press release apologizing to Arsenal for the mistake which would later be a crucial mistake for Arsenals title hopes. If Arsenal ultimately lost the league due to a similar mistake and did not get a reply, then Liverpool will not get a reply as well unfortunately which can be considered disgraceful considering that the VAR staff can look at the replies and use all these technological advances to help make the right call we still see these mistakes that are unacceptable but are labeled as “human error”.