Liverpool-Tottenham replay possible under Uefa rules loophole

A replay of Liverpool’s match at Tottenham could be possible on a legal interpretation of Uefa’s rules, according to those within football legal circles.

Premier League sources are adamant that a replay of the controversial clash will not happen, especially since their rules only allow for a replay in the event of a club being guilty of an offence, but there is a belief that the fact the competition's own rules make no other mention may allow a new precedent to be set.

Jurgen Klopp became the first figure to publicly raise the prospect of a replay in his Wednesday Europa League press conference. The Liverpool manager said he would prefer that as an outcome of this controversy, but admitted it's unlikely.

Liverpool have not made such a request up to now, as the fall-out from the decision to wrongly disallow Luiz Diaz's goal continues.

It was the nature of how that goal was ruled out that could create a problem for the game if the club do decide to pursue that route. A replay could be possible over incorrect application of laws, rather than an outright mistake: since the VAR actually identified that Diaz was onside, the correct application of the laws of the game would have been to award a goal, but that evidently didn't happen.

That takes it beyond the threshold of a simple mistake, and could fall under the provisions for a protest to Uefa. The European governing body do allow clubs to submit protests - albeit within 12 hours of the game finishing. The current principles of the International Football Association Board [IFAB] regarding “admissability of protests” state that “protests may not be lodged against factual decisions taken by the referee”” and that “in principle, a match is not invalidated because of: malfunction(s) of the VAR technology (as for goal line technology (GLT)); wrong decision(s) involving the VAR (as the VAR is a match official); decision(s) not to review an incident; review(s) of a non-reviewable situation/decision”. Since it has been acknowledged by the PGMOL that this did constitute a “factual error”, there is a belief that this could be legally pursued.

Diaz’s goal was ruled out in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat (Getty Images)
Diaz’s goal was ruled out in Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat (Getty Images)

Liverpool themselves were involved in a potential precedent, when Roma complained about the incorrect decision of a corner - rather than a penalty - from a Stephane Henchoz handball in their 2000-01 Uefa Cup semi-final.

Referee Jose Maria Garcia-Aranda initially pointed to the spot only to change his mind and indicate a corner. While a drop-ball should actually have been given in this situation, it was felt by Uefa that no further action should be taken as a corner actually ended up benefitting Roma more than the drop-ball.

Had that not been the case, though, the governing body's use of language in the situation had some sources involved fearing the prospect of a replay might at least have been raised. Liverpool were surprised at the time that Roma's complaint got that far.

Protests do usually have to be submitted within 12 hours of the end of the game in such cases, but the fact that the Premier League make no mention of replays means that the Uefa example could be pointed to in any legal case.

Where Liverpool could find a greater likelihood of success is in suing for compensation, but there is an internal acknowledgement of how deep the repercussions could be depending on what happens next.

The club are currently assessing what steps to take, as the PGMOL are set to improve their protocols following the biggest VAR error the Premier League has seen.