Stories

10 major World Cup injustices that VAR would have changed

Sol Campbell, Argentina 1998
We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Schumacher sent off

France vs West Germany, 1982

There are certain decisions in football history that should have been so obvious that you wonder whether chucking technology at the problem would even help. Patrick Battiston’s teeth were literally on the pitch after his collision with Harald Schumacher during the 1982 World Cup, and yet the referee awarded a goal-kick.

A slow-motion replay would have made for pretty gruesome viewing – but perhaps a small measure of justice would have been done.

Owen takes a tumble

Argentina vs England, 2002

In 1998, Michael Owen terrorised Argentina’s defence with his fearsome direct running. In 2002, it was a different skill entirely that helped England out, as he went down in the box under a challenge from a hirsute Mauricio Pochettino (let’s get the VAR out on that haircut).

David Beckham’s redemptive penalty gave England a 1-0 win in the group stages, but would VAR have changed that? Of course not. The video evidence would have revealed that brave, lion-hearted English players would never dive to win a penalty. (And in reality, this perhaps wasn't clear cut enough for Little Mo to be punished by.)

Look at the screen!

Argentina vs Mexico, 2010

In one of the more ridiculous moments from recent World Cup history, Carlos Tevez nodded in from a clearly offside position against Mexico in a 2010 last-16 game. Now, this would have been your average botched linesman call except for one thing: the big-screen replays clearly showed that Tevez was offside.

Despite the players remonstrating with the referee, pointing at the replays above their heads, there was nothing to be done and the goal counted – despite everyone in the world knowing it was wrong.

Lampard levels

England vs Germany, 2010

Or is it? This one still hurts. Frank Lampard’s strike is cited by Sepp Blatter as the incident that really kick-started the drive to bring video evidence into football. Germany had taken an early two-goal lead in Bloemfontein in the last 16 of the 2010 World Cup, and things looked grim.

Yet Matthew Upson pulled one back for England on 37 minutes and, two minutes later, Lampard’s brilliant lofted effort crashed off the bar, then bounced about 18 miles over the line. It’s tempting to dream that at 2-2, England might have gone on to win the game, but the truth that Germany were just much better. Perhaps in this case, VAR would have just subjected the Three Lions to another agonising penalty defeat.

Henry’s hand

France vs Republic of Ireland, 2010 qualifying

OK, so not strictly during the tournament, but this was so blatant and so important that it bears mentioning. Everything about this stinks – FIFA had a clear vested interest in France qualifying for the tournament over plucky Ireland, and although we’re not suggesting deliberate foul play, they did smooth the way for Les Bleus.

It started with a seeded draw for the play-offs – a decision made late on in the qualifying process once the teams involved had already been decided. Then, in extra-time in the second leg, Thierry Henry clearly controlled the ball with his hand before squaring for William Gallas to bundle home and send France to South Africa.

France being France, obviously took their slice of good fortune and absolutely messed it up, finishing bottom of their group with one point, and losing to hosts South Africa. VAR may have seen the Republic of Ireland through instead, although judging by the Boys in Green’s performance when they qualified for the Euros two years later (played three, lost three, scored one), they wouldn’t have done much better. Maybe FIFA were right.

New features you'd love on FourFourTwo.com