Mark Clattenburg questions whether UAE trip affected VAR officials' performance in Tottenham defeat

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has suggested that the VAR officials midweek trip to the UAE could have impacted their performance during Liverpool's highly controversial 2-1 defeat to Tottenham.

The Reds fell to a last-gasp loss to Spurs in London on Saturday, despite holding on for much of the second half with only nine men.

Liverpool saw Curtis Jones and then Diogo Jota dismissed – both under contentious circumstances – but managed to keep the score at 1-1 until Joel Matip's stoppage own goal.

The biggest talking point of the match came in the first half, however, when Luis Diaz's perfectly legitimate goal was ruled out for offside after what refereeing body PGMOL later admitted was a 'significant human error'.

It is understood that the VAR official, Darren England, did not realise that the goal had initially been ruled out by referee Simon Hooper and failed to communicate a need to overturn the decision.

The error is now the focus of an investigation by PGMOL, with England and his assistant at Stockley Park, Dan Cook, removed from upcoming Premier League duties.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that England and Cook had officiated a match in the UAE just 48 hours before the Premier League fixture at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, adding further scrutiny to their performance.

As reported by the Times, England oversaw VAR for a match between Sharjah and Al-Ain in the UAE Pro League on Thursday, with Cook acting as assistant referee.

Many have questioned why Premier League officials are allowed to take up side gigs in other countries, especially so close to their domestic duties, while former Premier League referee Clattenburg – who took charge of 297 English top-flight games – backed up claims that the pair's performance could have been adversely affected by the midweek travel.

He wrote in the Daily Mail: "It has been speculated that England and Cook’s trip to the UAE on Thursday impacted their performance and I can tell you, those long international trips take it out of you.

"I remember doing a Europa League game in Krasnodar, Russia, on a Thursday. I returned to referee a Premier League match at the weekend and by full time, I couldn’t remember what had happened over the last 90 minutes, I was that tired.

Mark Clattenburg

"I know other officials who have felt the same. The PGMOL need to be mindful of that when sanctioning these trips."

Outlining the reasons how and why such a calamitous error occurred in the use of VAR on Saturday, Clattenburg highlighted the need for clearer communication between all match officials.

He wrote: "There was a total breakdown in basic communication at Tottenham on Saturday.

"Assistant Adrian Holmes should have been shouting ‘offside, offside’ after raising his flag against Luis Diaz. Referee Simon Hooper should have been relaying that to the players, too. All this should have been picked up by their earpieces and heard by VAR Darren England and his assistant Dan Cook at Stockley Park.

"They should have been under no illusions Diaz had been flagged offside. But for whatever reason, England and Cook thought the on-field decision was onside.

"When England said ‘check complete’ to Hooper, he was mistakenly confirming not that the Diaz goal was good but that it should be disallowed.

"England should have expanded on his decision. Instead of ‘check complete’, he should have said: ‘I’ve checked the potential offside. It’s onside, therefore I’m awarding the goal. Check complete.’

"That way, we would not have this controversy."

Liverpool released their own statement on Sunday, revealing that the club "will explore the range of options available, given the clear need for escalation and resolution."

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