Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL) has taken a significant step towards transparency in the wake of a controversial VAR decision that marred Liverpool’s clash with Tottenham on Saturday. The referees’ body is set to share the audio recordings related to the incident, which led to Luis Díaz’s disallowed goal, with Liverpool after the club formally requested a copy on Monday.
The contentious decision in question saw VAR officials Darren England and assistant VAR Dan Cook failing to overturn an on-pitch call that disallowed Díaz’s goal for offside. Liverpool, who had Curtis Jones sent off following VAR intervention, eventually lost the match 2-1, with Diogo Jota also seeing a red card.
Liverpool’s frustration with the VAR error led them to release a statement strongly criticizing PGMOL’s assessment that “significant human error” was responsible for the decision. The club has called for a comprehensive and fully transparent review of the entire VAR process. Subsequently, Liverpool requested access to the audio recordings that played a pivotal role in the disallowed goal.
PGMOL has expressed its commitment to openness and transparency by agreeing to share the audio recordings with Liverpool. This move may also extend to a public release of the audio after Liverpool has received it. The intention is to make the audio accessible to fans and experts alike, aligning with the organization’s mission to enhance transparency in refereeing decisions.
The upcoming episode of “Match Officials Mic’d Up,” a monthly television program dedicated to showcasing greater transparency in refereeing, is expected to feature the controversial audio. Hosted by former England striker Michael Owen and PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer, Howard Webb, the show presents previously unheard audio conversations between on-field officials and the VAR team at Stockley Park. The next episode, scheduled for the beginning of next week, promises insights into one of the season’s most debated refereeing incidents.
In a recent episode of “Mic’d Up,” Howard Webb publicly acknowledged an officiating error by referee Simon Hooper in a match between Wolves and Manchester United in August. Hooper and the VAR team responsible for that decision were subsequently stood down from officiating in the following round of matches.
Similarly, in light of the contentious VAR decision at Tottenham, Darren England and Dan Cook have been withdrawn from Premier League officiating duties on Sunday and Monday. They will also not participate in top-flight games scheduled for this weekend. However, Simon Hooper will take over the VAR duties for Everton’s home match against Bournemouth on Saturday.
As football authorities navigate the challenges and controversies surrounding VAR, releasing audio of this high-profile incident marks an important step toward greater transparency and accountability in officiating procedures within the sport.