VAR farce is a Liverpool injustice – but also very funny. Stop trying to make football flawless…

Editor F365
Liverpool players Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah and Cody Gakpo argue with a linesman
Liverpool players Virgil van Dijk, Mo Salah and Cody Gakpo argue with a linesman at Spurs.

The Mailbox doesn’t want football to be flawless. Part of the fun is in the mistakes and the injustices. Maybe we should all just accept that officials are human and stop chasing a perfect game…

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Something which has been lost in the furore of the Goal Which Never Was, is that the whole thing is very, very funny.

Not ‘funny how these thing happen to Liverpool it’s a conspiracy’ funny but ‘a VAR spokesman said “this is the one thing we didn’t want to happen”’ funny.

Cards on the table: I’m an anti-VAR fundamentalist. There is no version of VAR I will ever find acceptable, because it exists in direct opposition of what football has always been and will continue to be despite the best efforts of all concerned to ruin it. Football is chaotic, and ugly and brutally harsh and joyous and beautiful – often all within the space of 5 minutes. 22 people, 1 ball, 2 goals. The perfect amount of chaos. Too many people, it’s unwatchable chaos – they tried that with villages. More goals/balls – same issue. Fewer players – not enough chaos. It’s the perfect sport, because it has the right amount of unpredictability and drama.

VAR is, in theory, the antithesis of all that makes football brilliant. It’s supposed to bring order, but doesn’t. I suppose it might do, one day but it seems unlikely because humans are involved and until we can remove them from the equation it seems doomed to fail.

So when those few of us on the fundamentalist side see events like those of the weekend. Football, lovely football, healing itself it is primarily very funny.

I read the mailboxes which followed – all equally funny. The unfairness of it all, the incompetence of it all, the ‘it’s not VAR it’s the application’ of it all. To all concerned I have this unwanted and unasked for advice:

Grow up.

You don’t want football to be fair. Fans and players alike – you don’t want football to be fair, you can’t do. If you wanted football to be fair you wouldn’t roll around pretending to be injured until leaping to your feet as soon as a card has/has not been issued. If you wanted football to be fair you wouldn’t scream from the stands at the referee to give a penalty for what was obviously a dive from your striker who also can’t want football to be fair because he’s literally cheating.

No-one really wants football to be fair. What you want is for the bad decisions against your team to go away, but keep the ones that favour you. VAR won’t do that. Not consistently.

Me? As I say, fundamentalist. I want football to be brilliant, beautiful chaos. Scrap it all. Kill it, burn it, put it’s head on a stick outside FA HQ as a warning to future initiatives that will ruin the game. Genuinely, I don’t care if my team loses to a goal based on a poor decision by a ref. Because I’m an adult and can contextualise it. What I really want, is for football discourse to move past discussing decisions and on to more interesting stuff. Thomas Frank was asked about VAR on MOTD2 this week, and immediately said he didn’t want to discuss it and quickly moved on to 3 minutes which were more interesting and informative than anything that had preceded it for 24 hours.

That’s the future we could have if everyone just grows up and accepts that everyone on the pitch is allowed to make mistakes. Even the officials. In the meantime I’m going to treat these blunders in the appropriate way possible: laughter.
Jeremy Aves


We don’t want a perfect game
Something that has always annoyed me about the introduction of VAR is it embodies the hopeless pursuit of absolute perfection when it comes to refereeing. People think they want a game devoid of injustice but they don’t really. It would remove a major part of the drama of the game. The officials are players as much as anyone else. They try their best to adjudicate fairly in a game moving at high speeds, with incidents happening in multiple areas of the pitch all at the same time, and, most of the time, get things right.

The terrible precedent being set by the introduction of VAR is that there is one single truth that will completely level the playing field and remove any objections to decisions ad infinitum. The feeling that now permeates the game after every goal, that sort of emotional limbo we occupy when we imagine VAR are sifting through angles and trying to find some infringement that would rule it out, that would be the dominant feeling at football matches were that imagined standard of officiating ever to be reached. No outrage, no sense of injustice, just a vacant “computer says no” as the pent up excitement of thousands of people attempts to find a way to dissipate itself in the void.

People have spoken about VAR being, at best, nothing more than an additional layer of subjectivity and, at worst, an unnecessary bias-creating cabal of corruption. Obviously not all of that is true in every sense, but most of it is true in some sense. My concern is where this will ultimately lead.

My guess is we are about 3-5 years away from football being refereed by an AI with the players wearing impact-sensitive AR suits which track speed, impact force, etc. and refereeing decisions are being made in nanoseconds by a completely inhuman box of circuits and code.

Is that what we want? Cause that’s what’s coming. But it won’t stop there. People will argue about the code itself and the settings, “who defined the impact parameters?”. Then we’ll have the code being written by ANOTHER AI and so on until the game is so forever changed that it cannot be recognised.

Refereeing is a skill. Just like playing football is. Why anyone would choose to become one is beyond me but they do and both they, and the officials on the touchline, do amazing work 95% of the time.

People need to shut the f*ck up and stop being such cry-babies.


Kop karma
Clearly there is no conspiracy or corruption against Liverpool amongst the referee’s band of brothers. There is absolutely no connection to the Constantine Hatzidakis incident of 9th April. Just because Andy Robertson tried to get the guy banned, sacked or hounded out of a job there is no way his colleagues have decided to get some retribution. (Emoji, winking smiley face)
Ray – Perth


End game
While I sympathise with Liverpool fan’s current plight of having a mistaken decision go against them, Graham’s idea of eliminating human mistakes from human endeavors through pressure seems like the correct response.

The only unfortunate downside that I can see, is that it happens to involve the complete eradication of the human species in order to be achieved. But ultimately we all want a fairer game and if sporting integrity is at stake then we all need to make sacrifices and consider radical ideas.
Paul, Manchester


Bin it
If Saturday’s match between Spurs and Liverpool had happened before VAR Curtis Jones wouldn’t have been sent off and there would have been just as many disputes over whether it was or wasn’t a red card. Match of the Day would have highlighted that the Diaz goal should have stood and there would have been the usual gripes about the standard of refereeing and Jota would still have been sent off for one very dodgy first yellow card but we’d all still realise that he was an utter cockwomble for committing the foul that earned him the second. What we wouldn’t have had is a statement from Liverpool and most, admittedly not all, people would have accepted it as human error and moved on.

Does anyone still think VAR is a good idea? Get rid.
Dave AFC


How refs can improve
For years now automation has been creeping into the officiating side of the game and eliminating the need for ‘refs’

Gone is the goal line official.

Referees correctly see that this will end up with them being redundant and have fought to keep technology out of the game to ‘preserve the game’. They don’t. They fight technology because it will eventually supplant them. It’s clear from the very low standard of refereeing, which surprisingly gets worse each year, that they don’t care about the integrity of the game, they care about their jobs. As would anyone – automation will eventually replace us all.

But they are doing a truly woeful job of demonstrating that a human is better than a machine (or algorithm). Like it or not the WC showcased that a computer can do a more consistent job than a human – who can’t seem to go more than three matches without errors.

I won’t defend refs here because they are terrible. But I watch games in Germany and Italy quite a bit and the standard of refereeing is much better and things like this rarely happen. VAR checks don’t take 4+ minutes. Perhaps if our refs really want to save their jobs they should spend their spare time in Italy and Germany observing their counterparts instead of jetting to land of the black gold to fill their pockets.


Follow cricket’s lead
Amid all the chaos of poor refereeing standards, non-existent red cards and Offside calls, I think the major problem here is lack of transparency.

And this was present in cricket as well which has now been rectified using video referees.

Here’s a solution I propose for VAR to turn it around:

– The audio of the VAR team analyzing the incident should be made audible to stadium and home viewers.

Just like they do for cricket.

This ensures complete transparency and will remove any problems in communication currently being faced.

Everyone comes to know the reason why the certain decision was taken by VAR and there is no debate or needless discussion on lack of transparency.

Problem solved.
Tejas (Spurs game should be replayed)


Liverpool’s reaction
As much as Saturday’s proceedings were ridiculous, Liverpool need to get over this entitlement that they have been uniquely, greivously wronged.

Last season Arsenal had one goal chalked off against United and one goal scored by Brentford, in games that utlimately resulted in one loss and one draw, but could have been 6 points.

Both were clear errors by PGMOL which they acknowledged after. Arsenal were annoyed but, despite Arteta increasingly being represented/resented as a tearaway, the statement was ‘disappointed, would like to see this removed from game, it happens’. Not this revenge narrative.

Interestingly, whilst many people seem to think this weekend’s excuse is baffling, I entirely believe it/think it makes sense in the daft logic house the PGMOL have created. This kind of miscommunication is entirely plausible although probably removable if the referee’s decision (in text) pops up on a monitor next to the incident so it’s an obvious yes/no).

It’s the decision next, that ‘because the phase had ended/moved on’ that makes no sense/should be changed. This was a wrong call, the VAR realised seconds later, but because they were bound by ‘procedure’ not what was right, they didn’t interrupt the referee.

There should be something drilled into referees about the overweighted significance of goals. If the decision is relevant to an actual goal scored (whether to allow or deny) it should take precendence and even a pause if necessary, and it should be subject to a return to the previous game phase.

This is actually where making ref audio for stadiums available would be useful- no-one would be complaining much if the original above fuck up had occurred but VAR chipped in 8 seconds later. Maybe a bit of grumbling in the stadium about interrupting the flow of the game but people would understand the right result was made.

Instead, following protocol, the clear weakness of no common sense or accountability/rectifying for an accident makes PGMOL far more fallible/pathetic/insert critique here.

They seem to feel that rules protect them, whereas most people can clearly see it’s the rules that mess them up constantly.

Now VAR is being questioned philosophically, it should go to what it should always have been – the referee’s/linesmans call, unless a clear and obvious error. Refs should ref, linesmen should call and VAR is free to chip in when, and only when the call on the field is blindingly incorrect on TV. No ‘gnats ass, line drawing’ nonsense, or frame by frame tackle review, just everyone accepting it’s a human game but sometime when big mistakes inevitably happen, it should be run back.
Tom, Walthamstow


…I’m a Liverpool fan and I wasn’t going to get involved in this debate but so many people are missing the point as to why Liverpool fans are so annoyed I just had to have my say (editor permitting), so here’s my attempt to clarify a few things:
1) Jota’s red card – most (reasonable) fans are not arguing this one. He deserved 1 yellow (albeit for the tackle before) and the 2nd was stupid. No argument

2) Jones’ red card – again, most reasonable fans would admit this is 50/50 on whether it was a red or not. Not really a clear and obvious error from the ref and the way that VAR presented the replay to the ref was extremely misleading. Of course it’s going to look worse if you stare at a still image of a foot bending someone’s leg for 10 seconds. I dont believe it’s a conspiracy but that was definitely a poor decision from the VAR and we have a right to take umbrage at it.

3) Diaz’s goal – this is the main one people are getting so wrong. He was onside, yes, clearly. Ref made an incorrect call on the pitch, happens all the time to everyone. But the sheer number of mistakes that had to be made for that goal to remain chalked off is staggering. How did the VAR not know what the on-pitch call was? Why was there no communication between the officials? How did VAR not recognise the game didnt restart in the manner it should? That is not 1 person making 1 mistake. That is individuals and groups of people making consistent errors. Any one of those errors in isloation is simply a human making a mistake. But so many errors, one after the other? That’s something else entirely. We’re not talking about the ref missing a foul, we’re talking about the entire officiating team making a series of egregious errors that quite simply should never be able to happen. Show me a fan of any other team that, were it to happen to them, would just take it on the chin and I’ll show you a liar. Also, please point me to any other example in football where the assistant ref didnt know a goal had been given/not given

That is the point you’re all missing (or ignoring) – it wasn’t 1 mistake but a series of massive cock-ups that should never have been allowed to happen and should absolutely never happen again to any team. The ref’s on-pitch calls are all debateable depending on allegiance (I feel he got them mostly correct given what he saw) but VAR intervened and then failed to do even the most basic aspects of its role.

And it all comes from a governing body (PGMOL obvs) that is apparently beyond reproach or even criticism. The referees are human, the system is fatally flawed and needs to change.

Call Liverpool fans idiots/entitled/hypocritical/etc about the cards and penalty shouts by all means, they’re subjective calls. But look past that and actually see the rank incompetence of the VAR specifically and the PGMOL generally. It needs to stop and there needs to be accountability or things will never improve.

Rant over
Clive (LFC)


Why them?
Somewhere inside Stockley Park, Howard Webb is sat in a darkened office with a large glass of whiskey and a lit fag burning in the ashtray on the desk before him.

“Liverpool. Why did it have to be f**king Liverpool…” he mutters to himself before finishing the glass and pouring himself another a triple.
Lewis, Busby Way


VAR is fun
Just took a look at YouTube for the most controversial VAR decisions and, gosh, it’s a lot of fun. Surprising how many actually go against Liverpool considering all I read is how they always benefit. One mildly contentious off-side for Wolves but his toe is over the line so yes, it was off-side to the letter of the law. One big difference is that the VAR team hadn’t been treated to a cosy payday in the UAE beforehand. Contrary to Mr Tickner’s wonderfully crafted article, I think the UAE trip does indeed bring into question the integrity of the game. Diaz’s goal aside, I don’t really think the decisions are the problem – it’s the way they were made. The still that greeted the ref when he went to the screen absolutely served to make his mind up before he looked at the incident in full. I don’t think Jota actually touched Udogie for the second yellow either, but the dramatics (and card waving) again swayed the ref, did they really look at the foul on Gomez? You can bet your bottom dollar it would have been fine toothcombed if it was Virgil defending.

VAR should be great, but the premier league has f’d it up. All too often it seems to work to support a preferred narrative (resurgent United win at Wolves, Angeball (yuk) Spurs taking it to the big boys, New super team Man City walking over everyone, and yes sometimes it helps Liverpool out too but the list of VAR injustices is pretty long for the red men and when it is in our favour it is usually as clear cut as VAR can be (including the handball in the UCL final, Spurs fans!).

Also, and I know writing to f365 will have a huge impact on this, but can we do away with this business of not raising your flag until the move is over, its stupid and dangerous, and it adds so many layers of complexity to off-sides (see Diaz’s Goal). I saw a linesperson trying to do it at U12’s level at the weekend and Its almost impossible to justify. If you are sure he’s off, stick yer flag up, if its borderline, don’t.

I do like Ange, Spurs will be there or thereabouts I reckon, but he is not re-writing the way football is being played, he’s just made watching Spurs not make you want to not tip-ex in your eyes.
Tom, Somewhere


Integrity matters
Dave Tickner’s clickbait article certainly did its job, so I suppose that justifies it by the rules of the internet, but it was a pretty poor piece of journalism, and would have been ripped a new one in the media round up on here if it was published in The S*n. Which is probably where it belongs. When you are appealing to the Dunning-Kruger mob in the comments section, that’s a sure sign you’re filling up on the low hanging fruit.

Those who cannot process information without tribalism won’t understand it because it happened to Liverpool, so that’s when it started and finished for them, but to everyone else who loves football, we can clearly see that this nonsense demonstrably does affect the integrity of the game.

I am delighted that Liverpool are trying to hold these ridiculous men to account. The FA has so much power, has such an impact on the manner in which the sport is run that it’s entirely appropriate to make them squirm and force them to be transparent.

Those running VAR are ruining the game as a spectacle, and this is just the latest of many examples affecting pretty much all clubs. It might happen to your team next if it hasn’t happened to them already. Do you really want nothing to change? It won’t always be Liverpool who are disadvantaged. Actually, the next time it happens, Liverpool might benefit, and your club may lose because of that.

And what about the paying fans, who went to see a football match with two teams playing with confidence and excitement, only to have it ruined as a spectacle by inept, faceless men who had more impact on the final result than any player on the pitch?

What are people not getting here? This isn’t about Liverpool, this is about the soul of the game.

I have seen countless posters complain – bizarrely – that when bad decisions happened to their club, why didn’t Liverpool complain about it? Was your club affected by a dreadful decision that shouldn’t have happened? Why didn’t your club stand up for itself like Liverpool is? Why didn’t your club demand that enough is enough?

This isn’t about Liverpool, it’s about football, and I am delighted that my club is making a stance. You should be too, even if you hate Liverpool.
Matthew (clicks mean more, obviously)

Read more: Sympathy for Liverpool is huge but not limitless – their ‘sporting integrity’ statement is absurd

More fan mail for Tickers
Is it possible for Dave Tickner to hide his hatred of Liverpool a little better? It’s amazing how you just know when he’s written the article, the second one with the unnecessary scathing undertone in as many weeks.

His recent article on Liverpool is a less than thinly veiled attack on a club he quite clearly doesn’t like.

‘For a man who is famously a bad loser’ Yes, and he says it himself unlike many other bad loser managers, Ferguson, Wenger, Mourinho and Guardiola to name a few. Now what have they all got in common? Great managers for the biggest clubs, who are asked their views more often with more scrutiny than any other. In fact it’s hardly worth calling out a ‘bad loser’ manager as they pretty much all are.

‘Only Liverpool could have released a statement quite this absurd’. They are well within their rights to ‘explore the range of options available’ whilst they have not been given sufficient evidence. It’s funny how the PGMOL couldn’t wait to publish audio for what Virgil or Klopp said recently but seem a little slow, reluctant maybe to share the audio for this situation. There are so many holes in the PGMOL’s response it’s laughable. Classing it as ‘significant human error’ isn’t good enough, transparency is required, how’s that complicated to understand or worthy of ridicule?

To then suggest they’re Tory-like in their response is a blatant attempt to get a rise out of the fan base, well here it is.

Quite simply sporting integrity has been undermined, it has been lessened and weakened, that’s really not difficult to see.

To then use the phrase ‘wallowy self pity’ with the connotations that has is quite frankly embarrassing and something I thought F365 were better than.

Then ‘Liverpool leave themselves open to attacks on things they’ve not even asked for’. Only by you Dave and the other ridiculously tribal fans.

Then capped off with suggestions of a replay of the game that he introduced and ridiculing that.

Why don’t you spend some time questioning the error, upon error, upon error of the decision rather than using it as an excuse to write a childlike scathing review of all things Liverpool FC?
Mark C (bored of rampant tribalism)


…I never thought that I would be holding the bbc up to such a high level of standard of reporting but after reading that article by Dave Tickner I suggest that he reads the VAR and what happens now piece that was covered by them.

Instead of coming across like a 12 year old which Dave did by using term such as “cry more” the bbc posted a balance and well constructed piece without stoking the needless fire of tribalism as you can see from the comments below on the thread.

Liverpool are quite rightly raising their hand and asking that questions are posed. It has since become evident what they want is for the audio to be released and for the PGMOL to look into the additional overseas travel commitments allowed for the officiating crews.

Any other club in this situation I would be quite happy for them to cause a stink. Something needs to happen to get to the bottom of this shitshow


…Forgive me, I’ll try (and fail) to keep this brief

I was going to say, We lost just move along but then F365 had something to say about Liverpool being dicks about calling out Sporting Integrity.

Where “Sporting Integrity” comes from…

1. Referee makes a call you disagree with but there is a small chance he knows the rules of the game better than you and you might not be that objective to begin with

2. Referee and/or VAR actually do get it wrong for <reasons>, and maybe even apologise (which is of course meaningless). Its a judgement thing maybe, or just an error in assessing what has happened on the pitch or maybe they STILL just know the rules better than you do and you’re STILL not particularly objective.

3. Referee and/or VAR totally botch how to ACTUALLY do their job. This isn’t being harsh about a tackle or not seeing the last man in line. This is actually screwing up the basic fundamentals of the job itself. It has nothing to do with making a split second judgement and applying the rules of football as best you can. It has nothing to do with having the entire footballing world looking over your shoulder demanding both speed and insane accuracy to get it right.

Nope this is actually about the basic fundamentals of executing the job itself. Like knowing how to blow a whistle or raise a flag or knowing the rules of the game.

There will always be someone that disputes decisions out of 1 and 2. It might be interpretation or judgement that you’re calling into question and that’s fine, because at the end of the day the match officials are professionals and its their job to make those decisions as best they can and that’s football and complaining about how the ref robbed you is part of football too.

3 though… This was not a failure in judgement (albeit the offside call was incorrect), this was a failure to follow the process and procedures of actually officiating the match itself. Like blowing a whistle or waving a flag. You expect the match officials to know how to do these things and to do them. Particularly given the amount of money in the game and standing of the league.

I appreciate where your article re Liverpool jumping the share by calling out “Sporting Integrity” comes from, but this time they got it right,

If one of the biggest leagues in the world cannot provide match officials to actually know how to do their jobs then yeah, Sporting Integrity is at risk.
E, Ireland (We lost, move on)


…Sporting integrity is not just undermined by corruption, it is also undermined by incompetence. You cannot trust someone to do their job properly because they are corrupt and you cannot trust someone to do their job because they are rubbish at it. Does Dave Tickner not think that over the next few weeks players are not going to be checking with the referee after a VAR call to ask if they can check again? Are managers not going to be asking the fourth official, are you sure?

Clubs and fans entrust the PGMOL with ensuring that matches run smoothly and fairly, they are the guardians of the game but ‘qui custodiet ipsos custodes’ (who guards the guards themselves?). Dave Tickner is right: in the past an error by the linesman of the type that occurred on Saturday night happened every week and we fumed for a while and then got over it. VAR was supposed to correct those offside issues – offside is binary we were told.

What happened on Saturday was different from other refereeing errors. It wasn’t a contentious decision or even a failure of the technology as in the Villa-Sheff Utd game or the Liverpool-Wolves FA cup game last year, it was sheer downright incompetence by more than one of the officials involved which ended up with the two sets of officials somehow having a misunderstanding about what the on-field decision was. That initial mind-blowing error was then reinforced by a failure of courage or attention to correct the miscomprehension before the game kicked off again or to override the protocol to ensure that the error was immediately corrected. That’s what undermines sporting integrity. Fans of all clubs have lost what little faith they had in referees – we all have our litany of mistakes that cost our club. More importantly, though, so have players and managers – Silva, Heckingbottom, Guardiola, and many others have all blown up at referees this season, players and managers know that they can say nothing without being fined or potentially suspended. Of course they have reasons for pointing the finger of blame at referees and, yes, we should be concerned about the crisis of refereeing at grass roots but respect flows both ways. There is a crisis of confidence in the PGMOL.

PGMOL need seriously to look at themselves and get their house in order by opening up both about this incident itself but, more broadly, in its attitude to decision making and explaining it. Walk us through the decisions in real time, as happens in other sports, that will help restore trust in the system and from that respect will flow back towards referees and it will silence the wild conspiracy theories that fans of all clubs have against certain referees and the system as a whole.

This is why the Liverpool statement is important and should be taken seriously. Like it or not, and F365 like every other media company involved in football knows this, the two biggest clubs in terms of supporter interest (pro and anti) are Man Utd and Liverpool. By kicking up a stink in the way they are, by using their bully pulpit, Liverpool, driven of course by their own selfish sense of injustice, have a chance of changing things for the better for fans of all premier league clubs. If they don’t kick up a huge fuss, what will change? Nothing and we just wait for the next monumental blunder by an organisation too arrogant to recognise that they are contributing to the problem. It could be your club next. I hope we’ll see other fans and clubs row in behind Liverpool and seek to see something positive come from this, not because they have sympathy for Liverpool but because if we work together then we can improve the football experience for all of us. Sadly Dave Tickner’s article suggests the outcome will be otherwise.

A final thing to finish with is to suggest that F365 editors have a word with Mr Tickner and suggest that (perhaps unknowingly) echoing the language (wallowy self-pity) of one of the most offensive articles about the city of Liverpool penned by the Spectator under Boris Johnson’s editorship while at the same time brandishing his anti-Tory credentials is unwise if you want the club and its fans to listen to your point.
Andrew, LFC, Cambridge


Crap conspirators 
Some Liverpool fans would have us believe that the decisions on Saturday point to a wider conspiracy to allow City to win the league rather than it just being a complete cock up. So we are to believe that the Premier League and referees are in cahoots together to make this happen by making poor decisions against Liverpool to stop then challenging City. So they’ve spent the summer identifying Liverpool (5th last season) as the main challengers to City rather than those teams finishing 2nd to 4th last season. Quite some leap of an imagination. Add in the fact that United (3rd last season) benefitted from a poor decision in the opening game to win, Newcastle (4th last season) benefitted from what Liverpool fans believe was a poor decision to send off VVD (didn’t capitalise on it), and some felt Arsenal (2nd last season) were fortunate to have a pen in the NLD (I think it was a pen by the way). Doesn’t exactly sound like City being given a clear way to win the league in the slightest. The more reasonable conclusion is that Liverpool aren’t being picked on, but rather something seriously went wrong which can happen.

Sympathy is weakened further when Liverpool fans start to argue that VAR aren’t allowed to recommend an upgrade of Jones’ yellow card (absolute garbage, we’ve seen plenty of players have yellows upgraded) or that Udogie tripped himself up when there is literally video evidence showing contact with Jota. And just because Neville says it’s not a red for him doesn’t automatically means it’s not a red by the way. His argument seemed to centre around Jones “not being that type of player” which is irrelevant (I’m sure Jones wasn’t out to hurt Bissouma but it is still a red).

Cristian Romero and Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk

Communication breakdown
Having listened to the released audio of previous VAR incidents, what really struck me was the absolutely chaotic way information was relayed between the ref/assistants/VAR team. I’d be very interested to hear the audio from the Liverpool offside incident, as what is blindly clear, is that the very important bit of information that they hadn’t given the goal, was not effectively communicated to the VAR team.

What I’m sure doesn’t help, is the multiple other voices you hear in the previously released audio, which took me a while to realise is the players giving their 2p worth of what’s happened and what they think should be happening next. The ref has to talk to them and VAR at the same time, all under some non defined time pressure, with 80 odd thousand people watching in the stands and more at home. In this environment, what happened at the weekend will continue to happen, it’s a human under massive pressure trying to communicate with multiple people at the same time, all with differing opinions and agendas.

If you look at how TMO works in Rugby (although far from perfect, it’s more accepted with more of the controversy over interpretation over head contact laws), players are kept well away and there is clear structure to their communication. For instance, if it involves a try they always open with ‘onfield decision is try/no try’. A similar approach would have almost certainly prevented this error. I know trying to get football players to behave like rugby players is an argument as old as time. But unless the culture of players talking to officials changes and refs are given the time and space to make considered decisions, we will continue to have these errors.

gez errico, Nottingham


Back to basics
Premier League refereeing needs to go back to basics.

Handball – there is no such concept as “accidental handball” in the rules. It’s either deliberate handball or “play on”. 95% of handballs given in the box are accidental – unnatural position, etc. but still accidental. If it’s not deliberate, which is fairly easy to see, it’s not handball and shouldn’t be given, regardless of the consequences.

Offside – the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacker. A sprinter does 100m in 10 seconds, 10m in 1 second, etc. The average pass is in touch with a player’s foot for 1/10th second during which his target will move up to 0.5m (?). The VAR line should be 0.5 m thich and should go from the extremities of the last defender and the attacker. If the lines cross…benefit of the doubt to the attacker. Play on.

Let the referee decide – Curtis Jones fouls Bissouma. The referee sees it and gives a yellow card. If he’s not sure whether it should be a red card, he should review the tackle on the pitchside monitor before making a decision. There is no role for VAR to recommend a review. VAR should only be involved in areas where the referee has missed something completely, basically off the ball, and it is a clear red card (Zidane headbutt on Materazzi for example). Anything else should be play on.
Matthew (ITFC)


Let it go, lads
“We’ve all made mistakes. But this is a horrendous mistake, unprecedented.”

Jamie Carragher, 02/10/2023



never done or known before

Dictionary definition of unprecedented.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Liverpool had a goal chalked off as it was judged to be offside, but it was actually onside.

This has definitely, never ever, not in the history of the game happened before.

Liverpool and their associates are only short of Kenny Dalglish coming out wearing a t-shit to round out their nonsense campaign.

Let it go fellas. Its done. Its over. Move on.


Pay up Pompey
In light of the angst and stamping of tiny Scouse feet in response to the VAR controversy, I’d like to point out that in 1993 Ian Ormondroyd scored a blatantly offside goal against my team, Pompey, in a play off semi final. Unfortunately we didn’t have VAR to fan the flames but with hindsight it seems only fair to award us the game, replay every match from the last 30 years and retroactively award us the billions of pounds our inevitable 20 year domination of Europe would have brought.

Mark PFC


Postcard from WSL
I went to my first ever arsenal women’s match on Sunday with my partner and her daughter. Neither are massively into football but both have enjoyed watching the England women’s team do well at the last couple of tournaments.

Apparently a record attendance for a wsl match and the atmosphere was good. More like a friendly for lots of it, however I could see both I was with get swept up when the crowd amped up and got behind the team. They also started joining chants and they especially loved booing Liverpool time wasting.

One thing I’ve never seen before was how compressed the teams were from liverpools goal kicks. 20 outfield players in a 20 yard box every time they played out. I don’t see much live mens football anymore but I cannot remember seeing all the players so close to each other and wonder if this is a specific tactic or common for women’s football?

Overall was a great day out, 2 people not into football having a great time and tickets only £13 each. Just a shame there are only limited games at the Emirates as there is clearly the demand for this.
Dave (would have been better if we scores though) bracknell