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Liverpool says ‘sporting integrity’ in Premier League match against Tottenham undermined after VAR error

By Aimee Lewis, CNN

(CNN) — Liverpool says “sporting integrity” in its Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur was undermined after an error by the Video Assistant Referee in Saturday’s game led to a goal not being allowed.

With Liverpool reduced to 10 men and the score at 0-0 in the first half of the English Premier League match against Tottenham, forward Luis Díaz converted a Mohamed Salah through ball to give his team an unlikely lead. Or so Liverpool and everyone watching thought.

The goal was quickly ruled out for offside, controversially so, and after Saturday’s match English soccer’s refereeing body, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), admitted that a “significant human error” had led to the decision not to award the goal.

It proved to be a costly mistake for a Liverpool team which ended the match with just nine men on the pitch and lost 2-1 thanks to a Joel Matip own goal with seconds to play.

“PGMOL acknowledge a significant human error occurred during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool,” the organization’s statement to CNN read.

“The goal by Luis Díaz 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.”

PGMOL said it would “conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error.”

The usual process was followed, with lines being drawn on the screen to determine whether the goal was offside, but a ‘check complete’ was confirmed as Darren England, the VAR, wrongly thought referee Simon Hooper had already given the goal. A VAR intervention would have led to the goal being awarded.

According to Reuters, PGMOL said on Sunday that England and his assistant, Dan Cook, had been replaced for two Premier League games – Nottingham Forest vs. Brentford on Sunday and Fulham vs. Chelsea on Monday.

“Liverpool Football Club acknowledges PGMOL’s admission of their failures last night. It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined,” a statement from the Merseyside club said on Sunday.

“We fully accept the pressures that match officials work under but these pressures are supposed to be alleviated, not exacerbated, by the existence and implementation of VAR.

“It is therefore unsatisfactory that sufficient time was not afforded to allow the correct decision to be made and that there was no subsequent intervention.”

Liverpool added that it was “unacceptable” the mistake had been categorized as a “significant human error,” insisting “any and all outcomes should be established only by the review and with full transparency.”

The club said it will now “explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution.”

CNN has reached out to the PGMOL for comment.

With Manchester City losing earlier in the day, victory for Liverpool would have moved the Reds to the top of the table.

Instead, in a match which had Curtis Jones sent off in the first half and Diogo Jota in the second half, reducing Liverpool to nine men with over 20 minutes of the match remaining, the Reds fell to a painful defeat.

“So many things happened today which are not going our way,” Jurgen Klopp told BBC Sport. “So close but, in the end, still nothing.”

He added of the offside decision: “I saw it, I know whoever made the mistake didn’t do it on purpose … so many things happened on the pitch which would have decided just differently … how can Diogo Jota in this game go off the pitch with two yellow cards? The first, he barely touched him and it was for sure not his fault … that’s not a yellow card.

“That’s what’s really a problem. When did you last hear of a game with 11 v 9? Here today we were close to 11 v 8. There was no horrible fouls. The result is gone, but the performance will stay with me forever. I loved our attitude, our desire.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk wrote on Instagram after the game. “Well, what can I say. Anyway, loved our fight and team spirit.”

There was further scrutiny placed on the PGMOL on Sunday after a number of contentious decisions in Nottingham Forest’s match against Brentford, with both Forest manager Steve Cooper and Brentford’s Thomas Frank insisting the referee and VAR had made mistakes.

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