In Brief

Maradona backs video referees despite 'Hand of God'

Argentine legend says his goal in 1986 would have been ruled out - and so would Geoff Hurst's in 1966

Argentine legend Diego Maradona has backed the use of video technology in football - a move that will surely encourage turkeys to cast their vote for Christmas. 

The cheating South American superstar made his surprise call during an interview with Fifa, acknowledging that had video assistant referees [VARs] been around in 1986 his infamous "Hand of God" goal against England would have been disallowed.

That goal played a large part in Argentina's 2-1 victory in the World Cup quarter-final, a controversy heightened by Maradona's subsequent claim that the Hand of God had helped the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton and into his net. 

"Football can't fall behind," said Maradona, when asked for his thoughts on the VAR system. "People used to say that we'd waste a lot of time, that it would cause a lot of annoyance. But that's not the case. People get annoyed when something that shouldn't be given is given, or when you have a goal wrongly disallowed. Technology brings transparency and quality, and it provides a positive outcome for teams who decide to attack and take risks." 

Referring to the 1986 game, Maradona, who captained Argentina on that occasion, said: "I think about it whenever I show my support for the use of technology. I thought about it and, sure, that goal wouldn't have stood if technology had been around." 

And to reinforce his reputation as one of football's greatest rugby players, Maradona coughed up another confession: "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. We were lucky because the referee didn't see it. You couldn't use technology then, but it's a different story today."

Video technology, which was used for the first time in a senior international tournament during last month's Confederations Cup in Russia, has been criticised in some quarters but Maradona said without it the tournament "would have been a little less fair". 

Backing the deployment of VAR in next year's World Cup, he said: "There have been lots of incidents where World Cup history would have been different if technology had been used. It’s time to change all that."

And despite his admission about his 1986 goal, the morally-dubious Maradona couldn't resist having a dig at the English. "It's not just my goal in '86 that wouldn't have counted," he said. "Let's not forget that England won the World Cup in '66 with a shot that didn't go over the line."

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