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Darren England removed from Liverpool matches for the season following VAR error fallout

Referee Darren England will not officiate Liverpool games again this season following a VAR error that marred their recent Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur, per the Telegraph.

However, England will not lose his job as he still has the support of chief refereeing officer Howard Webb.

The controversy arose from the VAR decision during Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat at Tottenham, where Luis Diaz’s goal was mistakenly disallowed.

This error has raised significant questions about the VAR process, prompting Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp to call for a replay of the match.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has removed England and assistant VAR Dan Cook from this weekend’s Premier League fixtures. 

The upcoming international break is expected to provide a brief respite from the ongoing turmoil, with a review of the situation planned when the next round of appointments is made for matchday nine.

England, once a poster boy for PGMOL, will suffer financial consequences due to the error, with lost match fees totalling approximately £1,200 deducted from his basic salary of around £150,000. 

He is also a FIFA-listed referee and has officiated Europa Conference League and Champions League matches.

Webb’s approach at PGMOL differs from his predecessor, Mike Riley, who aimed to keep referees away from clubs where unpopular decisions had been made. 

He intended to move away from this approach, but it appears unlikely that England will be assigned to Liverpool matches as a referee or VAR in the near future.

The pivotal moment in the controversy came in the first half of the clash when England misunderstood on-field referee Simon Hooper’s decision regarding Diaz’s legitimate goal. 

England’s ‘check complete’ signal led Hooper to believe that his initial ‘no goal’ decision was correct.

Several pundits argue that England should have stopped the game to reinstate the goal.

However, the VAR protocol does not allow such decisions to be changed after play restarts unless under exceptional circumstances.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the governing body for the laws of the game, does not plan to change the VAR protocol in response to this incident, attributing it to human error rather than a flaw in the rules. 

IFAB believes it is essential to accept the role of human error in football.

However, there is an ongoing IFAB review of the seven-year-old VAR protocol, with the annual general meeting scheduled for early next year. 

This incident may not lead to immediate changes, but it has sparked a broader conversation about the role of VAR in the game.

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