The absurdity of Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal on Saturday highlights the officials’ inadequate use of available technology.


Virgil van Dijk hesitated to voice his thoughts. He didn’t want to add to the controversy already surrounding Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Saturday night, but he was still taken aback by the outrageous errors that marred Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat. He openly admitted that he was ‘losing faith’ in VAR.


When questioned about Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal during the first half of the North London game, the Dutchman commented, “It’s all rather peculiar. I’m not sure who was in the VAR room making that decision. It doesn’t bode well. But it is what it is. We lost.”

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Gary Neville, like Van Dijk, believed that Liverpool should have followed suit and moved on from what Jurgen Klopp labeled ‘the most unfair’ defeat. Neville argued on Twitter that the post-match apology issued by PGMOL should have sufficed to address Liverpool’s sense of injustice.

However, it didn’t, and why should it? Apologies can’t simply put an end to the matter. Enough is enough at this point. It’s time to bid farewell to VAR.

The introduction of technology into football was initially seen as a long-overdue step forward for ‘The Beautiful Game.’ Television match officials had already demonstrated their worth in sports like rugby and cricket, where the decision-making process was swift, transparent, and efficient. However, in football, VAR has proven anything but effective.

The hope was that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) would not only assist match officials in one of the most thankless tasks in football but also bring a level of objectivity to rule application, making the game fairer and reducing accusations of biased officiating from irate fans and the proliferation of absurd conspiracy theories.

Yet, here we are, with Liverpool contending that the events of Saturday evening ‘undermined’ ‘sporting integrity.

Apologies count for nothing

Liverpool are hardly the first victims of a dreadful VAR oversight. There have been 14 apologies issued by PGMOL since August 2022 and, as Klopp alluded to, they count for very little. After all, Liverpool aren’t going to get that Luis Diaz goal back. Wolves, for example, won’t belatedly receive the penalty they should have been awarded at Old Trafford earlier the season.

It is, of course, nice of the officials to acknowledge their mistakes, but it doesn’t help the teams that have lost points as a consequence. Teams can get relegated on goal difference. Titles can be decided by a solitary point, as Liverpool well know. These decisions, then, can be incredibly costly – in every sense of the word.

Technology killing joy and slowing down the game

Mystifying mistakes and controversial calls are nothing new, of course, and the game can never be completely error-free. There is just too much subjectivity surrounding what constitutes a handball or serious foul play.

The debate over the Curtis Jones red card is a perfect case in point. Neville, for example, felt the midfielder only warranted a yellow because there had been no malice in the challenge; other pundits insisted that Jones had to be dismissed because he’d gone over the top of the ball. Each argument has its merits.

But the problem is offside decisions – which should, in theory, be straightforward – are sparking outrage because of lines being drawn incorrectly. They’re also taking far too long, which only serves to prove that we are not talking about ‘clear and obvious’ errors here. We’re instead seeing lines being drawn to establish whether a player’s shoulder was offside. It’s ridiculous and goes against the spirit of the game.

For the most part, fans remain willing to accept officials getting decisions wrong. To err is human, after all. But what they cannot accept is officials making a mess of decisions when they have replays available to them.

If they’re going to botch offsides like the one at Tottenham, then what’s the point in having the technology at all given the fact that, in general, it’s already killing the joy of celebrating goals and resulting in painfully slow reviews?