Referee Jon Moss has admitted he was misguided to ask the fourth official if he had seen a crucial penalty decision in Sunday’s Premier League clash between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Moss gave Tottenham a late penalty at Anfield for a foul on Harry Kane by the home side’s goalkeeper Lorius Karius.
Kane was clearly in an offside position when the ball was passed to him but Reds defender Dejan Lovren inadvertently played him on by getting a faint touch when he tried to hack it clear.
After Kane was brought down, Moss then spent several moments discussing with his linesman Eddie Smart whether the Tottenham striker was offside.
In their exchange, picked up by a pitch-side microphone, Smart is heard twice asking if Lovren touched the ball, as that would be a “deliberate action” and make Kane onside when he actually received the pass.
Moss twice tells Smart he does not know if Lovren touched it or not and is heard asking fourth official Martin Atkinson, via his headset, if he “got anything from TV”, only to almost immediately say “I’m giving the penalty” and point to the spot. This prompted many observers at the match to wonder if this decision was effectively awarded by video review despite the Premier League not currently using the system.
That, however, has now been denied by the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd (PGMO), the body set up to provide, represent and train officials when they went professional in 2001.
In a statement, a PGMO spokesman explained Moss was in a “good position” to see that a Liverpool player had touched the ball before it reached Kane but “given the speed of the attack” was uncertain of who it was.
The spokesman said Smart saw Kane was offside so “correctly sought clarification” on whether Lovren had touched it.
“His question created some momentary confusion when Eddie asked if ‘Lovren’ had touched the ball,” the spokesman said. “Moss knew a Liverpool player had touched the ball but not that it was Lovren.
“He then asked a question to his fourth official Martin Atkinson and acknowledges that referencing ‘TV’ was misguided. Atkinson did not reply to the question and so had no involvement in the decision.
“Having properly reflected on the questions asked, Jon knew a Liverpool player, now identified as Lovren, had played the ball and that no offside offence had occurred. He then awarded the penalty.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Atkinson did not view a television monitor and did not relay any information to the on-field officials.”
Kane missed the penalty but converted another controversially awarded spot-kick in stoppage-time to give Spurs a 2-2 draw.