Following his error as the video assistant referee (VAR) during Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham, Darren England has been replaced as the fourth official for Sunday’s Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Brentford.
England’s failure to correct an incorrect decision on the field, which disallowed a goal by Luis Diaz for offside, resulted in Liverpool’s 2-1 loss on Saturday.
Dan Cook, who served as the assistant VAR for the same game, has also been substituted as an assistant referee for the match between Fulham and Chelsea on Monday.
The referees’ governing body, PGMOL, stated, “Craig Pawson will now take on England’s role as the fourth official at the City Ground, while Eddie Smart will step in for Cook as assistant referee at Craven Cottage.”
Furthermore, Cook, England, and Michael Oliver, who served as the fourth official at the Spurs match, were part of an officiating team responsible for a league game in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday. Their trip was approved by The Football Association, and the trio returned to London on Friday to prepare for Saturday’s game.
What led to the disallowance of Diaz’s goal?
In the match, with the score at 0-0 and Liverpool playing with 10 players, winger Diaz’s goal was initially disallowed by the on-field officials, a decision that was upheld by referee Darren England after a brief VAR review. Notably, during the VAR check, the customary graphic depicting the offside line was not displayed.
According to sources, the correct procedure was followed for this controversial decision, but it ultimately resulted from human error. The usual lines were drawn as per standard protocol, and all other aspects were examined. However, a lapse in concentration occurred, leading to a loss of focus regarding the initial on-field decision. Instead of intervening to award the goal, a “check complete” confirmation was issued.
Howard Webb, the head of referees, reportedly spoke with Liverpool about the incident. A statement from PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) acknowledged a “significant human error” and stated that Diaz’s goal should have been awarded through VAR intervention since it was a clear and obvious factual error by the on-field officials.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressed frustration after the match, describing the defeat as occurring under “the most unfair circumstances” with “crazy decisions.” He argued that the offside call was incorrect, emphasizing that the ball was between Mo Salah’s legs, the offside line was drawn inaccurately, and the moment when Salah passed the ball was not properly judged.
Klopp also mentioned the PGMOL statement, suggesting that it didn’t provide much clarity, and cited a previous apology issued to Wolves for a penalty decision earlier in the season.
Former England striker Alan Shearer criticized the VAR error, calling it “incomprehensible” and highlighting that offside decisions were previously considered less contentious and that this incident could erode confidence in future refereeing decisions.