VAR is in the Premier League headlines once again for all the wrong reasons, following the controversy of Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Liverpool saw a legitimate goal disallowed in north London, after VAR failed to intervene to review the decision to rule out Luis Diaz’s effort for the visitors.
Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) – the body responsible for officiating in English football – issued an instant apology statement and blamed ‘significant human error’ for the mistake.
“PGMOL acknowledge a significant human error occurred,” the statement read. “PGMOL will conduct a full review.
“The goal by Luiz Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene.”
Incredibly, it is the 14th apology PGMOL have issued for mistakes from VAR, increasing the debate around the technology and the competency of Premier League officials.
Every PGMOL apology for mistakes made by VAR:
Everton 0-1 Manchester City (February 2022)
Both the on-field referee and VAR failed to spot a handball from Manchester City midfielder Rodri inside the penalty area, with Paul Tierney and Chris Kavanagh each missing what should have been an Everton penalty.
“The decision is incredible. It’s an incredible decision. It loses us the opportunity to get what we deserved,” Everton manager Frank Lampard said.
“It’s Chris Kavanagh. The referee couldn’t see it on the pitch, he was on the other side. That’s fine and one of the reasons we’ve got VAR, to have those secondary eyes.
“It wouldn’t even need more than five seconds to see that it was a penalty. Everybody saw it. He either should have told the referee to give it, or go and look to be clear. I can’t understand why he didn’t.
“We’ve lost a point potentially while we’re fighting for our life by a professional who can’t do his job right. And that’s amazing.
“All the criteria — arm’s out, below the sleeve — great from our point of view. I’m waiting for him to run to the screen and give it. It’s incompetence at best. At worst, who knows.”
Manchester City went on to beat Liverpool to the Premier League title by just a single point.
Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa (August 2022)
Andy Madley changed his mind on a Crystal Palace penalty after consulting the pitchside monitor, despite Lucas Digne handling the ball.
Chelsea 2-1 West Ham (September 2022)
West Ham were denied a late equaliser after Jarrod Bowen was wrongly adjudged to have fouled Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy in the build up.
Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace (September 2022)
Just one day later, Joe Willock was wrongly judged to have impeded Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita, with the officials disallowing an own goal from Tyrick Mitchell.
Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal (September 2022)
The first weekend of September in 2022 was a bad one for Premier League officials, with a third apology issueed from PGMOL for incorrect decisions involving VAR.
Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli saw a goal disallowed after Martin Odegaard was wrongly penalised for a ‘foul’ on Manchester United midfielder Christian Eriksen.
DRAMA AT OLD TRAFFORD! 🚨
Gabriel Martinelli’s breakaway goal ruled out by VAR for a foul in the buildup! ❌ pic.twitter.com/1nZBkTfZOc
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 4, 2022
Fulham 3-0 Aston Villa (October 2022)
Douglas Luiz was sent off in a defeat which brought an end to Steven Gerrard’s spell at Villa Park.
The midfielder was dismissed after officials deemed him the instigator of a bust-up between the teams, only for replays to show Fulham forward Aleksandar Mitrovic was the real culprit.
Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brentford (November 2022)
Brentford were awarded a penalty despite replays suggesting Nottingham Forest goalkeeper Dean Henderson made minimal contact with forward Yoanne Wissa.
Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United (November 2022)
Manchester United’s defensive wall was set up too far back from an Aston Villa free-kick, which Lucas Digne converted.
Christian Eriksen is understood to have informed referee Anthony Taylor, who ignored his protestations.
PGMOL accept that referee Anthony Taylor incorrectly moved #mufc‘s wall further back for Lucas Digne’s free-kick on November 6. United sources say Christian Eriksen politely informed Taylor of the discrepancy but was ignored [@samuelluckhurst] pic.twitter.com/A9zp0nB7CZ
— utdreport (@utdreport) December 27, 2022
Brighton 2-1 Liverpool (January 2023)
Liverpool midfielder Fabinho received only a yellow card for a poor challenge on Brighton forward Evan Ferguson.
The incident was reviewed by VAR, who somehow stood by the referee’s decision…
This challenge on Evan Ferguson by Fabinho WAS LOOKED AT by VAR and it stayed as a yellow. pic.twitter.com/KbrwddG41g
— Referees Messing Up (@VARmessedUp) March 14, 2023
Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton (February 2023)
A legitimate goal from Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan was ruled out after VAR official John Brooks drew an offside line in the wrong place.
Arsenal 1-1 Brentford (February 2023)
VAR official Lee Mason failed to spot Brentford midfielder Christian Norgaard standing in an offside position, allowing Ivan Toney’s late equaliser to stand for the Bees.
A win would have taken Arsenal eight points clear in the Premier League title race. The Gunners went on to finish as runners-up to Manchester City.
Lee Mason FORGOT to draw the offside lines on Ivan Toney’s equaliser.
Christian Norgaard was offside in the build-up. Had the lines been drawn, the goal would have been disallowed.
Arsenal would be 8 points clear… 😬 pic.twitter.com/V5TYUzhpNO
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) February 12, 2023
Tottenham 2-1 Brighton (April 2023)
VAR Michael Salisbury supported the decision of referee Stuart Attwell not to award Brighton a penalty during the club’s defeat at Spurs, despite replays showing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had fouled Karou Mitoma inside the area.
Manchester United 1-0 Wolves (August 2023)
Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana escaped punishment after clattering into Wolves striker Sasa Kalajdzic in stoppage time at Old Trafford.
VAR official Jon Moss did not instruct referee Simon Hooper to consult the pitchside monitor for review.
Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (September 2023)
VAR failed to intervene after Luis Diaz saw an opening goal for Liverpool disallowed for offside. Replays showed the Colombian was onside and that the goal should have stood.
“PGMOL acknowledge a significant human error occurred during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool.”
The PGMOL statement on the Luis Diaz disallowed goal. 👇 pic.twitter.com/qC2C0jMsXD
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) September 30, 2023
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