How the World Cup would have been different with VAR

Yahoo Sport UK
Giorgio Chiellini shows Luis Suarez’s bitemarks and Laurent Blanc trudges off after his semi-final red
Giorgio Chiellini shows Luis Suarez’s bitemarks and Laurent Blanc trudges off after his semi-final red

The Video Assistant Referee system is set to be used at the World Cup finals in Russia.

It is the first time the VAR will be available to help guide match officials at the tournament on potential game-changing decisions, such as incidents in the build-up to goals or penalties, as well as straight red cards or cases of mistaken identity.

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Here, Press Association Sport picks out five controversial moments in World Cup history which might have turned out very differently had VAR been in play.

Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’

Diego Maradona celebrates during the 1986 World Cup
Diego Maradona celebrates during the 1986 World Cup

England faced Argentina in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, where Diego Maradona would go on to score one of the most controversial goals in the tournament’s history, soon followed by one of the best.

Early in the second half, Steve Hodge’s deflected clearance sent the ball spinning back into the England penalty area. As goalkeeper Peter Shilton came out to punch clear, diminutive midfielder Maradona leapt high to apparently nod the ball over the England captain and into the net.

England players and manager Bobby Robson were left in disbelief – protesting in vain to Tunisian referee Ali Bin Nasser over handball as Maradona ran off to be swamped by his team-mates on the far touchline.

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Rivaldo’s Turkey theatrics

Rivaldo reacts after being hit in the ‘face’ by the ball
Rivaldo reacts after being hit in the ‘face’ by the ball

At the 2002 World Cup, Brazil played Turkey in their opening group match in Ulsan. Brazil were 2-1 ahead in stoppage time, with Rivaldo having netted a late penalty. Going over to take a corner, the forward waited for Hakan Unsal to give him the ball.

When it was kicked by the Turkey player, it hit Rivaldo on the thigh and rolled up onto his arm – but the Brazilian went down holding his face. Unsal was subsequently shown a red card by referee Kim Young-joo and tempers boiled over at the final whistle.

Blanc sees red in Saint-Denis

Laurent Blanc trudges off after receiving a dubious red card
Laurent Blanc trudges off after receiving a dubious red card

Hosts France took on Croatia in the semi-final of the 1998 World Cup. With France leading 2-1 and a quarter-of-an-hour left, Slaven Bilic and Laurent Blanc collided as the ball was delivered from a free-kick. Croatia defender Bilic went down, clutching his forehead, after what looked like minimal contact at best from the Frenchman’s palm into his chest.

It was, though, enough to convince Spanish referee Jose Garcia Aranda, who brandished a red card. Blanc was suspended for the final, which Les Bleus went on to win 3-0 over Brazil.

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Spain crossed the line

The Spanish team cannot hide their anger after the controversial exit
The Spanish team cannot hide their anger after the controversial exit

Joint-hosts South Korea became the first Asian side to reach the semi-finals of the World Cup when they beat Spain on penalties in Gwangju in 2002. During the first period of extra-time, though, Joaquin ran to the touchline and clipped the ball back across for Fernando Morientes to nod in at the far post.

However, Egpytian referee Gamal Al-Ghandour and his assistant ruled the ball had gone over the line – which replays showed was a “clear and obvious error” from the officials. South Korea went on to win the penalty shootout 5-3, with Joaquin seeing his crucial spot-kick saved.

Suarez sinks his teeth into Chiellini

Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini react to the former’s bite in the 2014 tournament
Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini react to the former’s bite in the 2014 tournament

At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, during Uruguay’s final group match against Italy in Natal, Luis Suarez again found himself in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Then Liverpool striker Suarez clashed with Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in the penalty area, both men going to ground.

Suarez held his face and teeth following what he claimed was a stray elbow, while a raging Chiellini exposed bite marks on his shoulder. At the time, no action was taken by Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez. The high-profile incident, though, was eventually dealt with retrospectively by FIFA.

Suarez received a four-month ban from all football-related activities, which delayed his debut for new club Barcelona, and was suspended from playing international football for nine matches.


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