Darren England officiated in UAE 48 hours before VAR howler in Spurs v Liverpool

Premier League official Darren England worked a game in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) just 48 hours before his howler during Tottenham's win over Liverpool.

England, together with assistant Dan Cook, was responsible for a monumental foul-up that saw Luis Diaz's perfectly-legitimate goal wrongly ruled out for offside. The duo were subsequently taken off VAR duty for the rest of the weekend after the PGMOL acknowledged and apologised for the gaffe.

But England has been shoved further under microscope after it emerged he oversaw VAR for the match between Sharjah and Al Ain in the UAE Pro League on Thursday, with Cook as assistant referee. According to The Times, PGMOL chief Howard Webb sanctioned their visit after the FA were approached by UAE Pro League officials.

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Questions are now being raised about the pair's workload, with many left wondering whether fatigue from the overseas trip played a part in their bungling of the Diaz incident. It's understood they arrived back in London on Friday following a three-day stay in the Gulf state.

Some have even questioned the integrity of the two officials, arguing that freelancing in a country which effectively owns one of the clubs in the Premier League (Manchester City) constitutes a conflict of interest. In any case, their actions will do little heighten trust of officials, nor temper the storm surrounding VAR at the moment.

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The decision to rule out Diaz’s goal, which came at 0-0 and shortly after Curtis Jones had been sent off, was later recognised as a huge mistake. The Colombian forward was incorrectly flagged offside seconds before he slotted the ball past Spurs keeper Guglielmo Vicario, but the subsequent VAR check failed to remedy the situation.

England and Cook mistakenly believed that Diaz's goal had been given, so passed a message on to referee Simon Hooper that his call was 'correct'. The miscommunication denied Liverpool an opening goal minutes before Son Heung-min broke the deadlock for Tottenham.

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Cody Gakpo equalised for the Reds right on half-time, but mid-way through the second half Liverpool went down to nine men after Diogo Jota picked up a second yellow card for a foul on Destiny Udogie. Tottenham spent the next 20 minutes frantically searching for a winner, and they got one in the sixth minute of added-on time courtesy of Liverpool's Joel Matip, who turned the ball into his own net while trying to clear a Pedro Porro cross.

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