VAR apology list in Premier League: Updated list of PGMOL apologies for referee mistakes in English football

Referees once again took the headlines on the opening matchday of the 2023/24 Premier League season following an incorrect VAR decision in Manchester United’s fixture against Wolves.

Gary O’Neil’s side were denied a late penalty after a foul from Andre Onana on Sasa Kalajdzic. Despite a long VAR check, Wolves were not given the spot-kick in injury time and lost the match 1-0.

Fans watching the game were in disbelief when the call was made, and similar incidents have happened since, including against United. Bruno Fernandes said he would wait for an apology — one that never arrived — after Cristian Romero was not punished for handball in the Red Devils’ 2-0 loss to Tottenham, and plenty of onlookers debated the penalty won by Marcus Rashford in United’s subsequent comeback win at home to Nottingham Forest.

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the body responsible for referees in English football, has apologised on multiple occasions for mistakes made during matches. Here is an updated list of the incidents.

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Every PGMOL apology for referee mistakes

Here are all the apologies carried out by the PGMOL for wrong decisions later accepted to have been wrong.

Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool: September 30, 2023

Liverpool had their hearts broken as Joel Matip’s stoppage-time own-goal gave Tottenham a 2-1 victory. The Reds, down to nine men after a red card to Curtis Jones and two bookings for Diogo Jota, were looking to hang on at the death, and nearly did so until the cruel finish.

However, the game could have turned out completely different had the VAR booth not committed a “serious human error” earlier in the match. Soon after Jones was sent off in the first half, Luis Diaz scored to put Liverpool 1-0 up despite their disadvantage, but the flag went up for offside. Replay seemed to show that Diaz was onside, but VAR Darren England ended his check without even drawing lines, and the decision stood.

The PGMOL issued a statement after the match stating the goal should have stood.

Manchester United 1-0 Wolves: August 14, 2023

After Onana clattered into Kalajdzic in the box, O’Neil thought a penalty would certainly be awarded. Instead, the Wolves manager received a yellow card on the sidelines for his protests.

PGMOL’s Jonathan Moss did apologise for the mistake after the match, which O’Neil said he appreciated.

Tottenham 2-1 Brighton: April 8, 2023

Chief Refereeing Officer Howard Webb had to give to Brighton an apology after they were denied a penalty in their away trip to Tottenham. It was one of many decisions the Seagulls were not happy about.

Arsenal 1-1 Brentford: February 11, 2023

Arsenal were denied two points in their race for the title after VAR’s Lee Mason did not use the right player when checking for an offside in Brentford’s goal.

Mikel Arteta was not happy after the game. He said: “That wasn’t a human error. That was a big, big, big not conceiving and understanding your job.”

Crystal Palace 1-1 Brighton: February 11, 2023

Incredibly, the referees made another wrong offside decision on the same day.

John Brooks was taken off VAR duty for two games after he drew the offside line in the wrong place, denying Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan a goal.

Aston Villa 3-1 Manchester United: November 6, 2022

Lucas Digne’s free-kick was one of the highlights in Aston Villa’s victory over Man United, but a post-match review showed he received additional help following a mistake from the referee.

The Red Devils’ wall was set more than 10 yards behind the ball, allowing Digne more room to find the back of the net.

Nottingham Forest 2-2 Brentford: November 5, 2022

Brentford were awarded a penalty after a collision between Dean Henderson and Yoane Wissa. Replays showed that Wissa initiated the contact, but Brentford were still given the spot-kick.

This forced Webb to apologise to Forest after the match.

Fulham 3-0 Aston Villa: October 20, 2022

Douglas Luiz was wrongly sent off for Aston Villa just after the hour mark. He was thought to have instigated a bust-up, when the real perpetrator was in fact Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal: September 4, 2022

Arsenal’s first defeat of the season came at Old Trafford, but a refereeing decision impacted the match early on.

Gabriel Martinelli was denied a goal after a VAR check decided Martin Odegaard had fouled Christian Eriksen. PGMOL later revealed that the goal should have stood.

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Newcastle 0-0 Crystal Palace: September 3, 2022

Crystal Palace were let off the hook when Tyrick Mitchell’s own goal was ruled out after Joe Willock was thought to have impeded Vicente Guaita between the sticks.

It turned out to be the wrong decision, despite a lengthy check in the VAR hub.

Chelsea 2-1 West Ham: September 3, 2022

Maxwell Cornet thought he scored late on against Chelsea to make it 2-2, but the referee disallowed the goal due to a foul on Edouard Mendy by Jarrod Bowen in the build-up.

Webb apologised to David Moyes after the incident.

Crystal Palace 3-1 Aston Villa: August 20, 2022

Webb’s first apology in his new role came during Villa’s defeat at Selhurst Park. Andy Madley awarded Palace a penalty following a check on the VAR monitor.

The decision, which went against Digne, was the wrong call.

Everton 0-1 Manchester City: February 26, 2022

Man City were given a helping hand in their title race against Liverpool after Everton were denied a penalty in the second half.

Rodri misjudged the flight of the ball and it ricocheted off his arm. VAR official Chris Kavanagh stuck with the on-field decision, which later forced referees chief Mike Riley to apologise to Everton.

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