As the straw man argument persists about the validity of a replay between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool (Liverpool have never asked for one) and why there is no refereeing conspiracy (no-one beyond social media has suggested there is), the Premier League must consider an inconvenient question following the release of the audio surrounding Luis Diaz’s ‘goal’.
Is miscommunication between the officials an adequate defence for failing to apply the laws of the game?
That is the crux of the issue and it is baffling that so many still equate the events of Saturday evening to previous Var cock-ups. There is a critical and fundamental difference.
In previous cases when an apology was retrospectively issued the wrong decision was taken in real time by Var and on the basis of that wrong decision the laws of the game were correctly applied. Thus, a handball, an offside, a penalty or goal may have been wrongly determined at the time, but what instantly followed was correct procedure on the basis of that wrong decision. Thus, the game continued as one would expect. Only later did the PGMOL acknowledge they got it wrong. Cue understandable frustration.
On Saturday, the right decision was taken in real time by Var and on the basis of that right decision the laws of the game were incorrectly applied. Thus, a goal was determined at the time, but what instantly followed was the incorrect procedure on the basis of that right decision. The game did not continue in the right manner and the audio released shows the PGMOL knew within seconds they got it wrong.
We hear the Var operator, Mo Abby, pleading for the game to be stopped and communicating that Oli Kohout – the Var Hub Operations Executive wants an immediate pause.
All those speaking for the PGMOL have focused on how the referee Simon Hooper would have contravened the rules had he stopped the game once it restarted.
“Unfortunately, he can’t,” Dermot Gallagher told Sky Sports. “Once you decide the decision you’re going to make and the game restarts, there’s no going back. You’ve got to carry on.
“That’s what Darren England realises. He cannot go back as that’s the laws of the game. The referees have to abide by them.”
No-one at the PGMOL has addressed if the referee contravened those rules by virtue of the fact he mistakenly awarded Spurs a free-kick instead of a Liverpool goal.
In their statement on Sunday, LFC said “it was clear the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur”. The audio confirms that.
Again, all roads lead back to the opening question. Is miscommunication an adequate defence?
It remains to be seen if the club will proceed down the route of seeking ‘escalation’ - thus giving clearer definition of what that might mean. One suspects it now comes down to legal advice. Given the sense of fury at Anfield, it would be strange if they were not.
Liverpool are fully aware that they are being categorised as moaning about ‘one of those calls that everyone occasionally suffers’, and the strength of feeling expressed when initial sympathy on Saturday morphed into a furious reaction against the club’s statement on Sunday has been informative.
Jurgen Klopp’s response at today’s pre-Europa League press conference at Anfield will indicate how much he and Liverpool are prepared to keep the pressure on for an acknowledgement from the PGMOL and the Premier League that what occurred was unprecedented.