‘Hand of God’ goal wouldn’t have counted to­day

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTING LIFE -

Diego Maradona has never been shy about the fact that the first of his two goals in a 1986 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal 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. “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 goalthat-wasn’t-a-goal in 2010 against Ger­many in the 2010 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals, which would have tied the score. In­stead, Ger­many “grew in con­fi­dence,” Maradona said, and took a 4-1 win.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Ar­gentina’s Diego Maradona, left, beats Eng­land’s Peter Shilton to the ball to score the in­fa­mous “Hand of God” goal dur­ing their 1986 World Cup quar­ter-fi­nal.

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