Maradona: VAR would have disallowed my goal against England

• Thirty-one years on from his most controversial goal, Diego Maradona supports the use of technology
• “Every sport is using it and we can’t fall behind,” the Argentinian says
• He tells us how VAR might have judged some of the game’s most controversial incidents

Over the last few years, technology has become an integral part of the game. Following the appearance of goal-line technology, the video assistant referee (VAR) system has now been trialled at a number of FIFA tournaments, the most recent of them being the recent FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.

One man in favour of such developments is Diego Maradona, who attended the Russia 2017 final between Chile and Germany in St Petersburg. “Football can’t fall behind,” he said. “Given the rate at which technology is advancing and the fact that every sport uses it, how can we not think about using it in football?”

Speaking to FIFA.com, the Argentinian highlighted the misconceptions about the VAR before it came into use: “People used to say that we’d waste a lot of time, that it would cause a lot of annoyance. But that’s not the case.

“People get annoyed when something that shouldn’t be given is given, or when you have a goal wrongly disallowed. Technology brings transparency and quality, and it provides a positive outcome for teams who decide to attack and take risks.”

The use of the VAR proved vital on more than one occasion during the Tournament of Champions, when it was employed to detect offsides and hand-balls directly affecting goalscoring opportunities. “You get ups and downs during the course of 90 minutes of football,” added Maradona.

“One team can be in control for 15 minutes and then the other team takes charge. If you score a goal, you can see a lot more of the ball and get the opposition to push out more, which makes the game more dynamic. But if you score a goal and it gets disallowed, you can be forced back and miss your chance. And that’s not right.”

Did you know?
• VAR is used in “game-changing situations”
• Examples: goal scored, penalty decisions, direct red cards and mistaken identity
• The system was officially tested for the first time at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2016

Looking back
In asking for transparency, Maradona cast his mind back a few years, to the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™ and his famous “Hand of God” goal against England. “Obviously I think about it whenever I show my support for the use of technology,” he said with a laugh.

“I thought about it and, sure, that goal wouldn’t have stood if technology had been around. And I’ll tell you something else: at the 1990 World Cup I used my hand to clear the ball off the line against the Soviet Union. We were lucky because the referee didn’t see it. You couldn’t use technology back then, but it’s a different story today.” 

Enjoying the opportunity to revisit history, a smiling Maradona added: “It’s not just my goal in ‘86 that wouldn’t have counted. Let’s not forget that England won the World Cup in ‘66 with a shot that didn’t go over the line. Then it happened to them in 2010, when (Frank) Lampard’s shot crossed the line against Germany but wasn’t given. England had the ball and scored the goal they deserved, but Germany grew in confidence after that and it changed the match completely.

“There have been lots of incidents where World Cup history would have been different if technology had been used. It’s time to change all that.”