Soccer-VAR 'human error' caused by miscommunication, says PGMOL

(Reuters) - A lapse of concentration and loss of focus by the VAR led to Liverpool not being awarded a legitimate goal against Tottenham Hotspur, the referees' body in England said on Tuesday after releasing the audio from the VAR hub from Saturday's Premier League match.

Liverpool should have taken the lead in the first half through Luis Diaz who fired low into the bottom corner before seeing that the assistant referee had flagged for offside.

Diaz was actually onside but confusion in the VAR hub about the original decision led to the game restarting with a free kick to Tottenham rather than Liverpool being awarded a goal.

On Tuesday the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) released the full audio from the VAR centre relating to the mistake, were the VAR incorrectly communicated "check complete", confirming the on-field decision.

"After the referees disallowed the goal for offside, the checking phase and process began, which the VAR carried out correctly," PGMOL said in a statement.

"The image created showed that Luis Diaz was clearly onside, without the need for the insertion of a second line.

"In a lapse of concentration and loss of focus in that moment, the VAR lost sight of the on-field decision and he incorrectly communicated "check complete", therefore inadvertently confirming the on-field decision. He did this without any dialogue with the AVAR (Assistant VAR)."

After the restart of the match, the VAR and AVAR concluded that the VAR protocol in the Laws of the Game prohibited the match from being stopped.

The referees' body, later admitted it was the wrong decision to disallow Diaz's effort, blaming human error, and "should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention".

They added that they will introduce a new protocol to ensure clarity of communication between the referee and the VAR team in relation to on-field decisions.

With the use of VAR under scrutiny, Liverpool said "sporting integrity has been undermined" by the error, while Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper criticised the officials for the call to send off Moussa Niakhate in their 1-1 draw with Brentford.

Following the error, VAR officials Darren England and Dan Cook were replaced for two further games last weekend. They have also not been assigned any games this weekend.

PGMOL and The FA have also agreed to review the policy to allow match officials to officiate matches outside of FIFA or UEFA designations.

(Reporting by Angelica Medina in Mexico City, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Toby Davis)