November 16, 2022
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Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal voted top controversial World Cup decision

New research identifies the moments in World Cup history where VAR would have changed everything

  • Brits vote Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in World Cup 1986 as the most controversial decision in the tournament’s history


  • England’s Frank Lampard’s ruled out goal vs Germany and Jurgen Klinsmann’s iconic dive in 1990 also feature on the list of the top 10 referee blunders


  • New research commissioned by Samsung UK identifies the moments in World Cup history where a clearer picture with VAR would have changed the outcome of decisions


  • The 2022 Samsung Neo QLED TV range features ultra-sharp lights, extreme contrast, and jaw-dropping detail which offers an amazing visual experience for all sports fans



LONDON, UK – 16th November 2022- Millions of Brits are still sore as they vote Diego Maradona’s infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in the 1986 World Cup as the most controversial decision in the tournament’s history, according to new research released today.   


Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany (33%), Thierry Henry’s handball against the Republic of Ireland in the World Cup Qualifiers 2009 (28%), and West Germany goalkeeper Schumacher’s unpunished, incredible foul against France’s Patrick Battiston in 1982 (21%) also feature in the list of the top World Cup referee blunders.


The list was revealed from a poll of 2,000 football fans, commissioned by Samsung UK to showcase the new 2022 range of Neo QLED TVs, which are powered by Quantum Dot technology, providing stunning picture quality and true-to-life colours.


A panel of football experts, including former FIFA referee Dermot Gallagher, compiled the list of controversial movements, which was put to a public vote. The experts also examined how VAR would have changed the outcome of the decisions, had the technology been available back then.


The top 10 controversial World Cup decisions as voted by Brits are:

Most controversial World Cup decisions ranked   Outcome had VAR  

been in place

1  Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ for Argentina against England – 1986 (37%)


Goal disallowed and game drawn at 1-1 leading to a penalty shoot out
2  England’s Frank Lampard’s ruled out goal vs Germany – 2010 (33%)


VAR clearly spots the ball is over the line and awards an England goal. Although trailing 2-1 going into half time, England would ride the momentum and push on for a win against the Germans
3  Thierry Henry’s handball for France vs Ireland – 2010 World Cup Qualifier (28%) The handball is spotted, and goal disallowed keeping both sides level at 1-1 in extra time. The game goes to penalties with the luck of the Irish getting them the final spot in the 2010 tournament
4  West Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher’s unpunished, incredible foul against France’s Patrick Battiston – 1982 (21%) The German goalkeeper’s horrendous foul on Battison would have been deemed a straight red card reducing the Germans to 10-men
5  Holland’s Nigel de Jong not being sent off for a studs-up foul into Spain’s Xabi Alonso’s chest in the opening minutes of the World Cup Final – 2010 (21%) VAR would deem the Dutch man’s flying karate-kick style tackle a straight red, reducing Holland to 10-men against the tournament favourites, Spain
6  West Germany’s Jurgen Klinsmann’s iconic dive in the 1990 Final resulting in Argentina’s Monzón being sent off – 1990 (21%)  


The blatant dive is caught, and the sides remain level. Argentina’s flair and drive sees them push on for the win
7  Portugal’s Luis Figo not getting sent off for a headbutt against Netherland’s Van Bommel – 2006 (20%)



Having caught the foul, Figo would have been given his marching orders bringing Holland back into the game and pushing on for a draw and possible win
8  Brazil’s Neymar escaping a red card for elbowing Croatia’s Modric – 2014 (20%)




VAR would have deemed the foul a red card offence, reducing Brazil to 10-men just 27 mins into the game and giving the technically gifted Croatians a clear advantage
9  Spain having two goals wrongly disallowed for being offside against South Korea. South Korea won the game on penalties – 2002 (19%) Spain’s first goal from their set piece in normal time would stand, giving the Spanish enough to progress to the semi-finals
10  Spain beating Yugoslavia 2-1 after being awarded a penalty for a foul outside the box – 1982 (19%)


The foul would have been correctly deemed a free kick outside the box with trailing Spain unlikely to score and ultimately not qualifying for the knockout stages


Since its introduction to major football competitions around the world, VAR has continued to be a hotly contested issue, however 48% of football fans now support VAR’s introduction to international football.


More than six in ten Brits (63%) believe that VAR would have eradicated most of the World Cup injustices that have taken place over the years.


Two-thirds (64%) of fans believe VAR provides a clearer picture for both viewers at home and referees on the pitch.


However, the research also shows that 55% of fans fear VAR will cost England vital decisions in this year’s World Cup.


For those fans that don’t agree with the use of VAR – being unsure about celebrating goals (28%), VAR being used for the wrong reasons (28%) and slowing the game down (27%) were stated as the biggest VAR gripes for Brits. 


Although VAR accuracy has increased, decisions in recent Premier League games have still left fans baffled.  Nearly a third (32%) of those surveyed have said that their team has been negatively affected by a poor VAR decision this season, with a further 31% suggesting the bigger teams such as Liverpool get favourable decisions over less popular sides.


Samsung Neo QLED TVs true-to-life colour powered by Quantum Dot and incredible picture clarity paired with Dolby Atmos surround sound makes for an amazing immersive experience, allowing fans to take in the full stadium atmosphere – the next best thing to being there!


VAR analyst and former professional referee Dermot Gallagher said: “As a proud Irishman, the most controversial decision for me has to be Thierry Henry’s handball in the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland in 2009. With VAR and decent tech in place, the foul would have been called, bringing the tied game to penalties.”


Zeena Hill, Marketing Director, TV/AV, Samsung Electronics at said: “The Samsung Neo QLED TV range features ultra-sharp lights, extreme contrast, and jaw-dropping detail which offers an amazing visual experience for any sports fan looking to enjoy the game!”


For more information and to explore the full range of Samsung Neo QLED TVs visit 

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