PGMOL disputes Ben Foster’s assertion that officials induced Sky Sports to fabricate VAR data.

The PGMOL has rejected Ben Foster’s claim that Premier League match officials conspired with Sky Sports to cover up the VAR mistake during Liverpool’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

The referees’ body has faced severe criticism over the error, in which VAR Darren England misunderstood an on-field decision and allowed a legitimate goal by Liverpool’s Luis Diaz to be chalked off for offside. He failed to alert his colleagues on the pitch, telling his replay operator “there’s nothing I can do” as the match continued.

The incident sparked online conspiracy theories around football’s governance plotting against Liverpool. And Foster weighed in when he accused both the PGMOL and its VAR team at Premier League headquarters of putting direct pressure on Sky Sports not to broadcast replays of the incident.

Speaking on his YouTube channel Ben Foster – The Cycling GK which has 1.4 million subscribers, the former Premier League goalkeeper said there was only one replay shown of the offside goal in its immediate aftermath, and his suspicions were further raised when the incident was only briefly discussed by Sky Sports’ pundits at half-time.

“That tells me Sky are in bed with the people at VAR and [the PGMOL],” he claimed. “Because they must have got straight on the phone and said ‘do not highlight the fact that we’ve cocked up here, do not show it, do not bad-mouth us, do not nothing’.

“I guarantee you that’s what’s happened. So that’s why Sky were under direct orders to not say a single word about it.”

A source inside the PGMOL dismissed Foster’s allegations as “unfounded and simply not true”.

Another confirmed to The Independent that the referees’ body has no say or sway in what TV companies show. The Premier League’s match centre, rather than the PGMOL, communicates only factual information to broadcasters. Indeed Sky Sports would have leapt at the chance to highlight a major VAR mistake, and did so once it had clarification of the error.

Sky Sports did not want to comment on Foster’s claims, but sources pointed out that the half-time segment of the programme needed to cover two goals and a red card in an action-packed first half. The broadcaster later read out a PGMOL statement live on air and has since delved into extensive coverage of the incident, unpicking the moment in detail both on its Sky Sports News programmes and during Monday Night Football.

Analyst Jamie Carragher criticised the decision by England not to intervene and halt the game once he understood that the wrong decision had been taken.

“The bit where I’m really struggling is that they [VAR officials] must know within two seconds because Tottenham have taken a free-kick,” Carragher said. “I’d be screaming at the referee that a mistake has been made but maybe they’re saying they have to wait until the ball goes out of play. They’re saying they stayed with protocol, that they’re not allowed to stop [the match] but I don’t believe that. They panicked, they froze.

“I know that’s the rule but that’s a red-tape rule. If they had reversed it, we’d have been praising their leadership. “There’s talk that the officials didn’t know until half-time that a mistake had been made but when that ball goes out of play [after the incident] the look on that referee’s face… it’s a look of something has gone wrong.”

The Independent has contacted Foster’s representatives for comment.

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