VAR officials guilty of ‘human error’ for Luis Díaz strike stood down from duties

Darren England and Dan Cook were due to work on Premier League games on Sunday and Monday

The video assistant referee and assistant VAR guilty for the glaring error which prevented Liverpool from opening the scoring in their 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday have been dropped from matches this week, capping another humiliating weekend for the Professional Game of Match Officials Ltd (PGMOL).

Darren England, the VAR, and Dan Cook, the AVAR, have been removed from duties at Nottingham Forest v Brentford on Sunday and Fulham v Chelsea on Monday respectively. England was due to be the fourth official at the City Ground and Cook the assistant referee at Craven Cottage.

Luis Díaz thought he had scored the opening goal at Tottenham only for a flag to go up. But rather than overrule the onfield decision, England, the VAR, called “check complete” because he had not noticed the goal had been disallowed and instead thought it had been given by the referee, Simon Hooper. The PGMOL issued an apology for the “significant human error” and for England’s lapse of concentration. Since the start of last season, the PGMOL has apologised for mistakes on 14 occasions.

Jürgen Klopp was left bewildered by the disallowed goal but cut England some slack. “I am pretty sure whoever made the decision didn’t do it on purpose,” the Liverpool manager said after what was his team’s first defeat of the season. “It didn’t take extremely long to come to the conclusion. That’s a bit strange but someone else has to explain.”


As with all goals, the VAR checks every element of the goal to ensure they are correct. The lines were drawn and the process was correctly followed. However, England lost focus of the initial onfield decision. PGMOL acknowledged the decision to rule out Díaz’s 34th-minute goal was a “clear and obvious factual error”.

The error is another mortifying episode in a difficult season for PGMOL and its implementation of VAR. The first weekend of the season was marred by the match officials failing to award Wolves a stoppage-time penalty, leading to Hooper, also the referee that day, Michael Salisbury, the VAR, and Richard West, the AVAR, being dropped from duty for the following round of matches.

Howard Webb, the chief refereeing officer at PGMOL, has stressed referees must be accountable for their decisions in bid to make the organisation and its working practices more transparent and understood. However, this latest error will further and severely test the credibility of all involved. Speaking on Sky Sports after Saturday’s game, Gary Neville said of the Díaz decision: “That is unbelievable. That is a bad one. They said [in the statement], ‘significant’. That is very significant.”

Craig Pawson will assume England’s duties at Forest on Sunday, while Eddie Smart will take over from Cook as assistant referee at Craven Cottage.