Referees governing body announces changes to VAR protocols after fallout from Diaz’s disallowed goal

Referees governing body announces changes to VAR protocols after fallout from Diaz’s disallowed goal
Liverpool’s Luis Diaz scored a goal that was later disallowed during their Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur on Sept. 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 October 2023
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Referees governing body announces changes to VAR protocols after fallout from Diaz’s disallowed goal

Referees governing body announces changes to VAR protocols after fallout from Diaz’s disallowed goal
  • PGMOL said a new VAR Communication Protocol would be developed to improve communication between the referee and the VAR team
  • A win would have seen Jurgen Klopp’s team move to the top of the Premier League

MANCHESTER, England: The governing body for England’s referees will introduce changes to VAR following the errors that led to Luiz Diaz’s disallowed goal for Liverpool against Tottenham last weekend.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has completed a review of the incident in Liverpool’s 2-1 loss at Spurs on Saturday.

It had already admitted its mistake after Video Assistant Referee (VAR) Darren England failed to award Diaz’s goal, despite replays clearly showing the forward was onside. On Tuesday, it revealed new protocols that will be put in place to avoid a repeat in the future.

“We recognize standards fell short of expectations and acknowledged the error to Liverpool immediately after the conclusion of the fixture,” the PGMOL said. It added that it had made “key learnings to mitigate against the risk of a future error.”

PGMOL said a new VAR Communication Protocol would be developed to improve communication between the referee and the VAR team.

The VAR will also have to confirm the outcome of its check with the assistant VAR before informing on-field officials of the final decision.

The PGMOL also said it would reiterate that the speed of decision-making must not be at the expense of accuracy.

Liverpool had raised questions about “sporting integrity” after the loss. A win would have seen Jurgen Klopp’s team move to the top of the Premier League.

The club issued a statement on Sunday saying it would “explore the range of options available given the clear need for escalation and resolution.”

“It is clear that the correct application of the laws of the game did not occur, resulting in sporting integrity being undermined,” Liverpool said. “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.”

Saturday’s error appeared to have been one of concentration and communication, with the VAR believing Diaz’s goal had initially been given. Upon review the verdict was to say the check was complete, meaning it was correct for the goal to stand.

But as the original on-field decision was to adjudge Diaz offside, the response of “check complete” appeared to confirm the offside decision was correct.

VAR Darren England and his assistant Dan Cook were stood down from further duty over the weekend and will not officiate any games during the next round of fixtures.

PGMOL said a detailed report, including audio between officials, had been submitted to the Premier League and subsequently shared with all of the top-flight clubs.

“PGMOL are committed to enhancing VAR performance through a new training program which started this season and focuses on process and best practice for all VARs, AVARs and Replay Operators in their specific roles,” the governing body said.

It said work was being done to create a dedicated pool of VAR specialists and added that, along with the English Football Association, it would review the policy allowing officials to officiate matches outside of FIFA or UEFA appointments.

It emerged that England and Cook had both officiated a game in the United Arab Emirates on the Thursday prior to the Tottenham and Liverpool match.


Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’

Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’
Updated 19 min 6 sec ago
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Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’

Whittaker knocks out Aliskerov, Volkov beats Pavlovich in Riyadh’s UFC ‘Fight Night’
  • Whittaker took down the Russian fighter in just 1:46 minutes of the first round
  • Volkov defeated his compatriot Pavlovich by unanimous decision

RIYADH: Australian mixed martial arts star Robert Whittaker knocked out Ikram Sabirovich Aliskerov in under 2 minutes of the first round of the middleweight main event of the inaugural UFC "Fight Night" in Riyadh late on Saturday.

Aliskerov was pulled from Saturday’s UFC event in Las Vegas as a last-minute replacement for his compatriot Khamzat Chimaev, who withdrew from the fight due to illness.

Aliskerov was tagged by UFC's CEO and President Dana White as a "legit contender," having been on a seven-game winning streak, and having lost only one of his 16 bouts, to the fighter he was replacing.

Whittaker started the fight using precision striking to keep Aliskerov at a distance, while Aliskerov countered with powerful takedowns and effective ground control, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.

But Whittaker, nicknamed "The Reaper" for sending many opponents down with his famous 1-2-high kick combination, was just too much for him, ultimately securing a victory by knockout at 1:49 in the first round, solidifying his status as a leading contender in the division.

"I'm the most dangerous middleweight on the planet. Everyone knows that," Whittaker declared in a press conference after his victory.

In the heavyweight co-main event, Alexander Volkov defeated Russian compatriot Sergei Pavlovich by unanimous decision.

Earlier, Kelvin Gastelum beat American compatriot Daniel Rodriguez by unanimous decision in their middle weight division match.

Pavlovich came out aggressively, landing significant strikes early in the fight. However, Volkov showcased impressive endurance and striking accuracy, gradually turning the tide.

In a dramatic third round, Volkov landed a decisive head kick, followed by a series of punches that led to his victory. The crowd erupted in applause, appreciating the skill and tenacity displayed by both fighters.

The undercard featured several emerging talents who seized the opportunity to shine. Felipe Lima, a promising featherweight prospect, delivered a standout performance with a third-round submission victory (rear-naked choke) over Muhammad Naimov. Lima's seamless transition from striking to grappling highlighted his potential as a future star in the division.

In the bantamweight bout, Muin Gafurov impressed the audience with their striking precision and footwork, earning a unanimous decision win against Kyung Ho Kang. The technical mastery displayed by both fighters was a testament to the high level of competition in the UFC.

The fight night witnessed two other knockouts: Shara Magomedov defeated Antonio Trocoli at 2:27 of round three, and Volkan Oezdemir knocked out Johnny Walker at 2:28 of the first round.

The success of UFC Fight Night in Riyadh confirms the growing interest in MMA in the region and sets the stage for future events. UFC President Dana White expressed his excitement about the evening's success and discussed more events to come in the Middle East. "The energy and passion of the fans here in Riyadh have been incredible. We’re thrilled with tonight's success and look forward to bringing more world-class UFC events to this part of the world," White said.

“We sold over 12,000 seats. It’s been good, it was fun coming to this market. I love how passionate Turki AlAsheikh is about the sport,” White said. “In this region now, you see a lot of talents coming from here (Saudi Arabia and the Middle East).”

UFC Fight Night at Kingdom Arena was not just about the fights; it was a celebration of MMA's global reach and cultural significance. The event drew a diverse crowd, including local fans, international visitors, and celebrities from the sports and entertainment worlds. The atmosphere inside Kingdom Arena was electric, with enthusiastic fans cheering for their favorite fighters and savoring each moment of the action-packed night.

The success of UFC Fight Night in Riyadh highlights the growing interest in MMA in the region and sets the stage for future events.

With thrilling fights, standout performances, and an unforgettable atmosphere, the night will be remembered as a significant milestone in UFC history and a testament to the sport's popularity.

 


De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
Updated 23 June 2024
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De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track

De Bruyne seals Belgium’s 2-0 win over Romania to get Euro 2024 campaign on track
  • All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday

COLOGNE, Germany: Kevin De Bruyne scored and Belgium got its European Championship campaign up and running after beating Romania 2-0 on Saturday.
The No. 3-ranked Belgians shook off the shock of losing to Slovakia in their opening game by responding with a dominant performance in front of the Belgium royal family at Cologne Stadium.
Youri Tielemans gave them a flying start with a goal from the edge of the area in the second minute.
De Bruyne effectively killed the game off in the 80th after converting direct from Belgium goalkeeper Koen Casteels’ long kick.
All four teams in Group E have three points, meaning there is all to play for in the final round of games on Wednesday.
While Belgium won, there was more frustration for Romelu Lukaku, who had a third goal ruled out by VAR at these Euros.
Still, he was at the center of his team’s great start when laying the ball off for Tielemans to score with a low drive from the edge of the box.
It was just what Belgium needed after the Slovakia stunner, which raised the prospect of another early exit from a major tournament after being eliminated at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.
The format of the Euros, in which the four best third-place teams advance, leaves more room for error. But with memories of Qatar still fresh, another defeat would have broken the confidence of a team criticized for failing to live up to expectations in the past.
Tielemans’ goal seemed to lift the pressure, and Belgium ruled the rest of the half with 67 percent of possession.
Lukaku thought he scored after the break, but VAR said he strayed offside before firing past Romania keeper Florin Nita.
The longer the game went on without Belgium scoring a second, the more the tension rose.
Dennis Man could have evened the score when running through on goal, but was denied by Casteels.
The keeper then turned provider with a long punt upfield, which De Bruyne raced on to and fired home.
Under former Belgium coach Roberto Martinez, Portugal advanced to the knockout phase after a 3-0 win against Turkiye in Group F. Georgia picked up its first ever point at a major tournament after a drawing the Czech Republic 1-1 and still has hopes of advancing.


UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
Updated 22 June 2024
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UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024

UEFA fines Croatia for fan trouble at Euro 2024
  • The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of $29,900
  • The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros

ZAGREB: UEFA have fined the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) for the incidents that occurred in the stands during Croatia’s 2-2 draw with Albania at Euro 2024, the national federation said on Saturday.
The HNS published a statement on its website saying that it will have to pay a fine of 28,000 euros ($29,900) due to the “lighting of flares and throwing of objects by some Croatian fans during the match played on June 19 in Hamburg.”
“The Croatian Football Federation thanks the Croatian fans for their excellent support and once again calls on them to refrain from lighting and throwing flares,” the statement said.
The HNS was also fined after Croatia’s first match in Group B, which they lost 3-0 to Spain.
The Croatian federation was fined 87,875 euros for fans throwing plastic cups onto the pitch and lighting flares.
Croatia are in danger of a group-stage exit from Euro 2024 after defeat to Spain and Wednesday’s thrilling 2-2 draw in which Albania’s Klaus Gjasula scored at both ends, including a dramatic injury-time equalizer.
Croatia, World Cup semifinalists in 2022, will now likely need to win their final Group B match against holders Italy on Monday to have any hope of reaching the knockout phase of a fifth straight major tournament.


Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage

Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage
Updated 22 June 2024
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Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage

Portugal breeze past Turkiye and into Euro 2024 knockout stage
  • Portugal looked every inch a team aiming to win their second European Championship
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have at least two more tries to become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship

DORTMUND: Portugal swept into the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Saturday after comfortably seeing off Turkiye 3-0 and guaranteeing first place in Group F.
Bernardo Silva’s fine finish in the 21st minute, a comical Samet Akaydin own goal shortly afterwards and Bruno Fernandes’s second-half tap-in gave Portugal a straightforward win in front of swathes of passionate Turkish fans in Dortmund.
Portugal looked every inch a team aiming to win their second European Championship after triumphing in 2016, their star-studded line-up easily dealing with Vincenzo Montella’s enthusiastic but limited Turkiye team.
Cristiano Ronaldo will have at least two more tries to become the oldest goalscorer at a European Championship as Martinez said on Friday that the 39-year-old is in the right shape to play every four days.
It was Ronaldo who unselfishly set up Fernandes for a simple goal in the 56th minute after springing through Turkiye’s offside trap, and he then had time to pose for a selfie with a child fan who invaded the pitch midway through the second half.
Martinez’s side, on a perfect six points, will face one of the four best third-place finishers in the next round and go into their final group game against Georgia without any pressure for a result.
The same cannot be said for Turkiye who need a draw against the Czech Republic on Wednesday to ensure second place.
Turkiye’s passionate support again flocked to the Westfalenstadion in huge numbers, with long tailbacks on the roads leading to the ground several hours before the 6:00 p.m. (1600 GMT) kick-off.
Some fans sat on the top of cars leading chants among the thousands of supporters who crawled toward their destination.
Once inside what was effectively a home crowd let out a deafening chorus of whistles and jeers when Portugal jogged out for their pre-match warm-up.
However, once the match got underway there was a clear gap in class between the two sides and Portugal went deservedly ahead through Silva as the Manchester City midfielder confidently smashed in Nuno Mendes’s deflected low cross.
Soon after, Akaydin gifted Portugal a two-goal lead with his sloppy backpass which turned into an own goal as Zeki Celik and goalkeeper Altay Bayindir tried in vain to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Those two goals and the dominance of the Portuguese players quietened down the partisan crowd and the result was sealed when Fernandes stroked home his former Manchester United teammate Ronaldo’s present of a pass.
The Portugal fans then turned up the volume to celebrate their country reaching the last 16.
And cheers then rang around the ground from both sets of supporters as a pint-sized fan ran onto the pitch midway through the second half, just as the game was stopped to allow Nelson Semedo to replace Joao Cancelo for Portugal.
The youngster was cool enough to grab an amused Ronaldo for a photo and then dashed off on a mazy run his hero would have been proud of, dropping his shoulder on security staff before eventually being carted away from the pitch.
Ronaldo was less amused when five much larger fans then made copycat bids for selfies, only to be showered with boos and refused a photo before annoyed stewards reached them.


Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024

Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024
Updated 22 June 2024
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Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024

Southgate and England team under fire after lackluster display at Euro 2024
  • After Thursday’s uninspiring 1-1 draw with Denmark, the coach acknowledged “we understand what that will mean for the next few days”
  • former England captain Gary Lineker said: “I can’t imagine anybody, who is English, that would have enjoyed England’s performance because it was lethargic, it was dour...”

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany: Gareth Southgate said he knew it was coming. He was right.
Negativity surrounds the England team — despite leading their group after two games at Euro 2024 and likely to advance to the knockout phase.
After Thursday’s uninspiring 1-1 draw with Denmark, the coach acknowledged “we understand what that will mean for the next few days.”
Indeed, it has fueled concern among fans, English media and former players.
“We have to reflect the mood of the nation,” former England captain Gary Lineker said on his podcast, The Rest is Football. “I can’t imagine anybody, who is English, that would have enjoyed England’s performance because it was lethargic, it was dour...
“You can think of all sorts of words and expletives if you like,” he added, before using one himself.
Lineker’s political opinions have upset the UK government in the recent past — now he has delivered a brutal assessment of the England team.
His comments about England appear to have summed up the mood of many fans.
Southgate’s team were a pre-tournament favorite and beaten finalists at the last Euros.
BBC pundit Alan Shearer described the second half against Denmark as “awful.”
Southgate’s handling of a squad that includes Harry Kane, Jude Bellingham and Phil Foden has been brought into question.
“We have world class players so it’s the manager’s job to get the best out of those players,” said Shearer, a former England striker.
Southgate has transformed England’s fortunes since he was appointed in 2016 — leading the country to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2018.
England missed out on a first trophy since winning the 1966 World Cup when they lost on penalties to Italy in the final of the last Euros three years ago.
The 2022 World Cup was England’s worst performance under Southgate when they lost to defending champion France in the quarterfinals.
England were unconvincing in their opener — a 1-0 win over Serbia — and have a few days off before their final Group C game Tuesday against Slovenia.
So, what has gone wrong in Germany?
Expectation
It has been a longstanding complaint that too much is expected of England at international tournaments. Despite having the most popular league in the world — the Premier League — and some of the most successful clubs, England’s sole success on the international stage remains the World Cup it won in 1966. The last Euros was England’s best performance at any tournament since then when finishing runner-up.
Southgate
Ahead of the tournament, Southgate said this would likely be his last in charge of England if he failed to deliver a trophy.
“I’ve been here for almost eight years now and we’ve come close. So, I know that you can’t keep standing in front of the public and saying ‘please do a little more’, because at some point people will lose faith in your message,” he said before the Euros began.
No left side
The England team are looking unbalanced because they essentially have no left side. Luke Shaw is the only designated left back in the squad, but he is still not fully fit after a long-term injury, leaving Kieran Trippier — a right back — to play on the left. Foden is playing as a nominal left winger, but he prefers to drift inside. England are essentially attacking down the right or down the middle, hugely restricting their options and making the team easier to defend against.
Midfield dilemma
England’s longtime midfield issue has not gone away. In fact, it might be worse than ever. Southgate has admitted to doing an “experiment” by selecting right back Trent Alexander-Arnold as a central midfielder alongside Declan Rice. Alexander-Arnold was substituted early in both games. Quite apart from the oddness of Southgate experimenting in such a key position at a major tournament, he is also overlooking three midfielders who finished the English domestic season strongly — Kobbie Mainoo, Adam Wharton and Conor Gallagher.