You know that one oasis of hope we had after technology ruined domestic football on us – the World Cup? Yep, that’s being kitted out with eight-minute-long pauses, too. Hip, hip!
VAR, which stands for Video Assistant Referee, or in this case – Very Aggravated Russians – has been confirmed for this summer’s tournament and it got us thinking. What if this technology was available back then?
Would it have affected many famous or indeed infamous outcomes? Would we still be waiting for the decision on Zidane’s headbutt from 2006? Probably.
England v West Germany – World Cup Final, 1966:
We’re all aware of it by now – not even through legend, but because every single English journalist writes a reflective piece on it, despite not being in attendance, every six weeks. It was tied at 2-2 in extra-time. A cross from the right is neatly controlled by Geoff Hurst before he swivelled and smashed the ball off the underside of the crossbar. Azerbaijani linesman Tofiq Bahramov gave the goal and England would go on to score once more – confirming their place as world champions.
VAR Decision: No goal – the ball clearly doesn’t cross the goal line.
Rewritten History: West Germany go on to snatch a late heartbreaker through Uwe Seeler – sparing us all those woefully painful recollections from yer Da down the local pub.
England v Argentina – World Cup Quarter-Final, 1986:
You knew we’d go there, didn’t you? What’s incredible about the infamous ‘Hand of God’ is that 115,000 people saw it, yet the only one who mattered – missed it. Now, Maradona went on to score the ‘Goal of the Century’ just five minutes later, but it was a clear momentum shift.
If for some insane reason you don’t know what happened, watch the video below.
VAR Decision: Handball – goal disallowed.
Rewritten History: The game ultimately ends up in a penalty shootout – which England lose because obviously.
South Korea v Italy – World Cup Last Sixteen, 2002:
This one’s downright hilarious if you’re not from Italy. There’s more than enough reason to believe the officials were onside with the South Koreans at this tournament, but nobody will feel more hard done by than the Italians.
In the round of sixteen, Italy appeared to be the side who would disposed of the co-hosts, but it wasn’t to be. After giving the South Koreans a penalty, sending off Francesco Totti for diving and frequently totting up alleged fouls against the Azzurri, it became quite clear that referee Byron Moreno was bought.
Fun fact: Moreno was later convicted for trying to smuggle six kilos of heroin through JFK airport. Squeaky clean, we’re sure.
VAR Decision: He wouldn’t have gone to VAR, but should he have – they would have never given the penalty, Totti would have won one, and South Korea would have headed for an early exit.
Rewritten History: Italy may well have won that World Cup and spared the Irish the wrath of Giovanni Trapattoni. One can only dream.
France v West Germany – World Cup Semi-Final, 1982:
Patrick Battiston came on a substitute for the French and went one-on-one with Harald Schumacher. He kicks the ball past him, before he’s absolutely belted by the German stopper. Referee Charles Corver gives a goal-kick, despite Battiston lying unconscious by the edge of the box. He has two missing teeth, three cracked ribs and a spinal injury.
West Germany went on to win on penalties in one of the best games in World Cup history. They’d eventually lose the final to the Italians.
VAR Decision: We’re not sure VAR has the right to hand out jail sentences, but Schumacher probably would have been done for assault. A penalty would have been awarded.
Rewritten History: The penalty is scored and France go on to claim a world title.