Under-fire Premier League referee Darren England has been slammed for his astonishing blunder that led to Liverpool being denied a legitimate goal – as he has been seen for the first time since his suspension over the error.
England has been blasted for his ‘critical concentration lapse’ and prioritising ‘efficiency over accuracy’ for his performance during Saturday’s match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool.
In a hard-hitting report, referees’ body the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) delivered a damning indictment of England’s performance claiming that he rushed a routine situation and ‘inexplicably’ chalked off Luiz Diaz’s disallowed goal.
The report was sent to the Premier League but not disclosed to the public, with England bearing the brunt of the blame while his Video Assistant Referee (VAR) assistant Dan Cook was also criticised for a lack of basic communication.
The referee’s body said in its review seen by Mail Sport that the error came from ‘a critical lapse in concentration and clear lack of focus… by an individual match official which saw him inexplicably ‘check completing’ an incorrect on-field decision.’
Criticism of England, who was the VAR for the match, emerged as he was photographed while out for a walk near his £800,000 five-bedroom detached home in a village near Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
With a baseball cap pulled down above his eyes and wearing a grey North Face hooded top, the VAR appeared sullen and deep in conversation on his mobile phone.
England has made no public statement since his embarrassing error.
When approached at his home, he told a MailOnline reporter: ‘I am sorry, but I have no comment to make.’
Darren England has been photographed while out for a walk near his £800,000 five-bedroom detached home in a village near Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Darren England and his wife Fillipa, 41, have two daughters. Pictures on his wife’s Facebook page show them enjoying holidays with their children including a ski trip last February
England is married to Filippa, the director of teaching and learning at a school academy trust
Barnsley-born Darren England made his English Football League debut as a referee in 2015
Darren England’s assistant VAR Dan Cook is from Waterlooville in Hampshire and had a wife called Jenna (pictured together at Wembley Stadium), but they have since separated
England, 37, was the leading VAR when his mix-up led to him wrongly advising that Díaz had been correctly ruled offside in the clash in North London.
England’s ruling meant that Liverpool were not awarded a goal, to the astonishment of fans and officials from the Merseyside club which went on to lose the match 2-1.
The PGMOL blamed England’s shocking decision on a ‘significant human error’.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has since called for the match to be replayed.
Land Registry records reveal that England and his wife Filippa, 41, who have two daughters, paid £725,000 in July last year for their luxury home on an exclusive private cul-de-sac.
Filippa is the director of teaching and learning at a school academy trust.
Pictures on his wife’s Facebook page show them enjoying sunshine holidays with their children including a break in France this summer and a ski trip last February.
Neighbours of the couple are fiercely protective of the match official and today refused to discuss anything about him.
One neighbour at first denied knowing England, but when a reporter told him that he was from MailOnline, he replied: ‘I thought you might be’.
Referee Darren England during another Premier League match between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur at Turf Moor on September 2
PGMOL admitted that a ‘significant human error’ had led to Luis Diaz’s goal being disallowed and have since released the audio of VAR’s discussion with the on-field referee to the public
Barnsley-born England made his English Football League debut as a referee in 2015 after officiating at Football Conference games for several years.
He started refereeing Championship matches in the 2016/17 season with his first game being QPR’s 2-1 victory over Cardiff in March 2017.
His colleague Cook, 35, is from Waterlooville in Hampshire, and has separated from his glamourous wife Jenna, MailOnline can reveal.
A friend told MailOnline: ‘Dan and Jenna are no longer together. They have not been together for a while now.’
A neighbour added: ‘I used to see them together all the time but they have separated and I haven’t seen Dan for ages.’
It has emerged that England’s mistake arose after he incorrectly thought that the on-field referee – Simon Hooper – had awarded Diaz’s goal, and that VAR had only been asked to confirm whether it was the right call.
England’s wrong assumption meant that he told the on-field team ‘check complete’ after quickly checking that Diaz was onside.
Hooper took his statement as agreeing with the linesman’s decision to put his flag up and rule Diaz as offside.
The Liverpool manager argues with fourth official Michael Oliver (left) after the VAR blunder
England’s embarrassing error led to Liverpool winger Luis Díaz being robbed of a goal
The disallowed strike came just three minutes before Son Heung-min’s opener for Tottenham
PGMOL released the VAR audio of the disallowed goal on Tuesday night as part of its drive for transparency.
How the latest VAR controversy unfolded – transcript in full
Assistant referee 1 (Adrian Holmes): ‘All good. Both holding. Both holding’
Referee (Simon Hooper): ‘Yeah, leave it alone.’
Assistant referee 1: ‘Waiting. Delaying, delaying.’
VAR (Darren England): ‘Possible offside, Diaz.’
Assistant referee 2 (Simon Long): ‘Give it.’
Assistant referee 1: ‘Coming back for the offside, mate.’
VAR: ‘Just checking the offside. Delay, delay.’
VAR: ‘Give the kick point, let’s go. Kick point please?’
Referee: ‘Yeah, no worries mate.’
Replay operator: ‘So, here we are.’
Replay operator: ‘Just get a tight angle.’
VAR: ‘Yeah give me 2D line ready after this one from frame two after that.’
Replay operator: ‘So frame two there?’
VAR: ‘That’s fine. Perfect, yeah. 2D line on the left boot.’
Replay operator: ‘Let me just switch angles.’
VAR: ‘Romero, I think it is?’
Replay operator: ‘I think it might be this angle better? Happy with this angle?’
Replay operator: ‘2D line on the boot?’
VAR: ‘2D line on the boot.’
Replay operator: ‘Yep, okay. So 2D line on the boot.’
VAR: ‘And stop. Check complete, check complete. That’s fine, perfect.’
Assistant referee 1: ‘Playing.’
Referee: ‘Cheers mate.’
VAR: ‘Thank you mate.’
Referee: ‘Well done boys, good process.’
Replay operator: ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait. The on-field decision was offside.. Are you happy with this?’
Assistant VAR (Dan Cook): ‘Yeah.’
Replay operator: ‘Are you happy with this?’
Assistant VAR: ‘Offside, goal, yeah. That’s wrong that, Daz.’
Replay operator: ‘On-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this image? Yeah, it is onside. The image that we gave them is onside.’
Assistant VAR: ‘He’s playing him, he’s gone offside.
VAR: ‘Oh f***’
Replay operator: ‘Delay, delay. Oli (Kohout, PGMOL Hub Ops) saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.’
Replay operator: ‘Oli’s calling in to say delay the game. The decision is onside.’
VAR: ‘Can’t do anything.’
Replay operator: Oli’s saying to delay, Oli’s saying to delay.’
Fourth official: ‘Yeah.’
Replay operator: ‘Delay the game, to delay the game? Stop the game.’
VAR: ‘They’ve started the game. Can’t do anything, can’t do anything.’
Assistant VAR: ‘Yeah they’ve restarted. Yeah. No.’
VAR: ‘I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything. F***.’
The audio showed that the replay operator appeared to realise that a mistake had been made, saying ‘Wait, wait, wait, wait’ immediately after play was restarted with a Spurs free-kick.
The operator questioned England and his deputy Cook about his ruling, saying: ‘The on-field decision was offside. Are you happy with this?’
England could be heard in the audio, yelling, ‘Oh f***’ when he realised his error 22 seconds later, before insisting ‘I can’t do anything’.
The International Football Association Board, which is the game’s global rule-making body, states that referees cannot undertake a review of a decision once play has restarted, except in cases of mistaken identity or for a potential red-card offence.
England’s ruling left Liverpool seething with anger and releasing a statement saying that it has resulted ‘in sporting integrity being undermined’.
The club’s statement added: ‘We fully accept the pressures that match officials work under but these pressures are supposed to be alleviated, not exacerbated, by the existence and implementation of VAR.
‘It is therefore unsatisfactory that sufficient time was not afforded to allow the correct decision to be made and that there was no subsequent intervention.
‘That such failings have already been categorised as ‘significant human error’ is also unacceptable.’
The club said it would ‘explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution.’
The mistake in the first half proved to be crucial as Liverpool fell behind to a Heung-min Son goal, with the Merseyside club’s Curtis Jones also being sent off in the first half.
Liverpool equalised just before the break with a Cody Gakpo goal, but the Reds were reduced to nine men after Diogo Jota was shown two yellow cards in quick succession.
The club’s Joel Matip then scored an own goal in the sixth minute of injury time to give victory to Tottenham.
It was revealed this week that England and Cook had respectively officiated at a match in the United Arab Emirates just 48 hours before the Liverpool game.
But the PGMOL played down suggestions that they may have been suffering from mental fatigue or tiredness.
Officials said that the pair’s trip had been comparable with refereeing a midweek Champions League or Europa League tie.
But the body said on Monday that it and the Football Association would review the policy that allows officials to officiate matches outside Fifa and Uefa appointments.
PGMOL’s statement added that it recognised ‘standards fell short of expectations’.
The Premier League also confirmed it was undertaking a full review of VAR procedures after describing the Díaz incident as revealing ‘systemic failures’.
As a result of the controversy, England and Cook have been omitted from the referee appointments this week.
Klopp said today that the release of the audio conversation between officials and the VAR had made little difference to their thinking.
‘The audio didn’t change it at all. It is an obvious mistake,’ he said. ‘I think there should be solutions for that. I think the outcome should be a replay.
‘The argument against that would be it opens the gates. It is unprecedented, it has not happened before.
‘I’m used to wrong and difficult decisions, but something like this never happened and so that is why I think a replay is the right thing to do.’
On whether the club had asked – or would ask – the Premier League for a replay formally, Klopp added: ‘At this stage we are still going through the information we have.’
Klopp said it would have been much better to have corrected the mistake the moment it happened and he wants a protocol put in place to avoid similar problems recurring.
‘If you have this situation first time, you try to understand, and try to find a solution, but that doesn’t solve the problem. How can we sort not just for the future, but this situation?’ he added.
‘If that would happen again, I would say replay. Or much, much better than a replay – sort it in that moment. Common sense.
‘If a replay happens or not, it’s just my opinion.’
It is understood that the Premier League’s stance remains the same as earlier in the week – that a replay would not be considered.