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How VAR could’ve changed soccer history

MOSCOW, Russia.- For better or for worse, the newly introduced VAR (video assistant referee) technology has changed the game of soccer. One replay is all it takes for a game-changing decision to be reviewed; a red card, a disallowed goal, an offside call, the possibilities are endless.

But what if things had always been that way?

For starters, England might not have a World Cup trophy. During the 1966 World Cup final England scored a crucial and controversial goal to put them up 3-2 vs. Germany, a goal that came to be referred to as the famous “Ghost Goal”.

England went on to win the game 4-2, but it was the 3-2 during extra time that truly sealed the game. Geoff Hurst’s kick sent the ball against the crossbar and out, but the referee ruled that it was admissible as a goal. With VAR technology this might be a different story.

Another perfect incident for VAR is the 1982 World Cup semifinal where France lost to Germany after comfortably leading the game.

France was beating Germany 3-1 when the German goalie Schumacher body slammed French forward Battiston with enough force to knock him unconscious, leaving him with bruised ribs, a damaged vertebrae and making him lose a few teeth in the process.

Had VAR technology been available, Schumacher would’ve more than likely been sent off, and Germany might not have scored the two goals that took them to the final.

Argentina was also once at the receiving end of human error preventable by VAR. During the 1990 World Cup Final, Germany beat Argentina thanks to a very controversial penalty. German forward Völler fell down inside the penalty area after a tackle by Argentinian defender Sensini, but the replay revealed the defender actually touched the ball and not the player.

With no VAR available, the referee only had one angle and one chance to make a decision that ultimately decided that year’s World Cup champion.

More controversy waited at the 1994 World Cup quarterfinal; in a game where Italy defender Tassotti elbowed Spain’s Luis Enrique so hard he broke his nose. Tassotti was later punished and received an 8-match ban. But it was too little too late, Spain lost the game 2-1 and missed out on a clear penalty kick had the referee seen what happened in the area.

And the most controversial tournament in recent memory could have been less so: the 2002 World Cup. Hosts South Korea reached the semifinals thanks to several referee mistakes along the way of the tournament.  The Koreans beat Italy in quarterfinals with some questionable calls and proceeded to beat Spain 2-1 in their quarterfinal match, where Spain saw two legitimate goals disallowed.

All these incidents in one way or another affected or even decided the outcome of the World Cup, now all that’s left to see is if we’ll be looking back to Russia 2018 as the tournament that finally perfected refereeing in soccer.


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