Diego Maradona has never been shy about the fact that the first of his two goals in a 1986 World Cup quarterfinal against England was memorable solely because he cheated and got away with it. Heck, the infamous “Hand of God” goal got its name from Maradona himself when he told reporters after the game that it came from “un poco con la cabeza de Maradona y otro poco con la mano de Dios” (a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God).
Maradona’s goal almost certainly would have been disallowed had soccer had a video-replay system in place back then, an innovation that somehow is only catching on now, 31 years later, with FIFA’s baby-steps implementation of its video assistant referee system (VAR). The Argentine great is a fan of replay, even if it would have wiped out his goal against England.
“Obviously I think about it whenever I show my support for the use of technology,” he told FIFA.com with a laugh in a story published Tuesday. “I thought about it and, sure, that goal wouldn’t have stood if technology had been around.”
VAR was used on a trial basis at this year’s Confederations Cup and U-20 World Cup and will be utilized by various professional leagues before its grand unveiling at next year’s World Cup in Russia. It will be used to determine the correct call in “game-changing situations”: referee decisions on goals, penalty kicks, red cards and the like.
Maradona said the “Hand of God” goal wasn’t his only hand ball that replay would have corrected.
“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,” he told FIFA. “We were lucky because the referee didn’t see it. You couldn’t use technology back then, but it’s a different story today.”
Maradona brought up two more infamous examples, both involving England and Germany. In the 1966 World Cup final, Geoff Hurst was awarded a goal in extra time against West Germany even though the ball did not appear to go over the line. It proved to be the still-controversial game-winner, giving England its lone World Cup title.
And then there was Frank Lampard’s goal-that-wasn’t-a-goal in 2010 against Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals, which would have tied the score. Instead, Germany “grew in confidence,” Maradona said, and took a 4-1 win.
“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,” Maradona said.