Liverpool have now received the audio from the Luis Diaz offside decision in Saturday’s highly contentious 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Reds made a formal request on Monday to have access of the conversations between on-pitch officials and VAR team during the first-half incident of the Premier League game.
Diaz’s fine effort was chalked off by referee Simon Hooper for offside, while VAR Darren England apparently misunderstood the on-pitch decision and failed to communicate that the Colombian was actually onside when Mohamed Salah’s pass was played and the goal should have stood.
READ MORE: How VAR got the Luis Diaz offside decision so wrong
After the match the referees’ governing body PGMOL issued a statement admitting ‘significant human error’ had occurred to deny a legitimate goal.
It was reported that Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer at PGMOL, also contacted Liverpool to apologise for the error.
Meanwhile, Liverpool put out their own statement vowing to ‘explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution’, as well as formally requesting access to the audio of the conversations between the match officials for the incident.
The Reds now have the audio of the controversial call and, according to the Liverpool Echo ‘are reviewing the footage before determining any possible further response.’
The audio will surely provide a better understanding as to how and why Diaz’s disallowed goal became one of the biggest botched decisions in Premier League history.
But beyond that, what options are on the table for Liverpool really? And what will likely happen?
What do Liverpool want to happen now?
The Athletic claims that after speaking to ‘a number of senior figures at the club’ Liverpool fully accept the outcome of the game and are not calling for a replay.
Instead what the club do want is ‘a transparent investigation into the procedural failings so lessons are learned going forward.’ It is also said that Liverpool want to establish what role the Premier League will take in the review.
This is echoed by Sky Sports’ Melissa Reddy who writes that Liverpool want ‘a thorough examination of the process and a terms of reference for the review.’
Reporting from both the Athletic and Sky claims that Liverpool’s focus is on the process rather than the individual – and are, therefore, not happy to see England (below), or anyone else, treated as a scapegoat.
Neither England nor his VAR assistant Dan Cook have been selected for officiating duties in gameweek eight of the Premier League, following the blunder.
Another element that Liverpool feel is worth reviewing is the revelation that England and Cook had helped officiate a match in the UAE just 48 hours prior to the game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday.
There have been questions over whether outside engagements for officials should be permitted so close to Premier League games.
READ MORE: Mark Clattenburg suggests UAE trip could have impacted VAR officials’ performance
When will the audio be made public?
Having now received the audio files from the game, Liverpool are understood to be reviewing the footage before deciding any further response.
The Echo reports that the PGMOL are currently undertaking their own review of the incident, while the audio footage will eventually be released publicly – possibly on Howard Webb’s Match Officials: Mic’d Up show due to be broadcast on Tuesday, 10 October.
However, there has reportedly been some disagreement within the body over how and when the audio should be released.
Why is this decision so important?
While it may seem like just another bad refereeing decision to some, this was not a marginal or subjective call and it has ultimately become the catalyst for a drive to ensure improvements to VAR, the standards of refereeing and transparency around the process.
As Paul Macdonald writes for Anfield Watch: “The fundamental difference between this incident and all other VAR calls is that red cards, handballs, or even some of the more complex vagaries of offside, have subjective elements to them. The rules can be interpreted in different ways.
“What isn’t debatable – or at least, what we’ve been told isn’t debatable – is the lines drawn across the pitch to determine whether a player is onside or not.
“The problem is that the mode of operation is now irrevocably broken. In a single incident we know that it doesn’t matter how many officials are positioned around the screen, there’s a chance that every one will stay quiet and allow the wrong decision to occur.
“So rather than just accepting this, we should demand a higher standard. Football is a low-scoring game. These decisions hold way more impact on the final result than say NBA or NFL. A penalty award with a modern xG of close to 80% likelihood of scoring can decide an otherwise tight contest.
“And there has to be far more transparency. Referees have long refrained from explaining themselves to the public, and even now VAR in a stadium is an unedifying experience, with fans kept in the dark as to the reason why they’ve celebrated a goal that no longer stands.
“This isn’t about Liverpool, or even about referees, it’s about the entire culture of football itself, from the fans, to the players, to the referees, to the results. It’s all interlinked. And it’s time for a reckoning.”