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Exclusive Interview: Sir Geoff Hurst Talks Technology In Football And Labels VAR “A Joke”

We sit down with England’s 1966 World Cup final hat-trick hero, Sir Geoff Hurst, to discuss how technology has changed football, some of the worst calls that have been made using VAR this season, and whether his infamous World Cup hat-trick goal would have counted had this technology been in place back in 1966.

Key Highlights:

  • Sir Geoff Hurst believes goal-line technology is necessary, but VAR is a joke:

    “Goal-line technology I was always in favour of providing it didn’t interfere with the pace of the game. And they’ve got a system now where in a second, you know whether it’s in or out. Perfect. And that was needed, categorically.

    I was at the game when we talked about goal-line technology being introduced. I was sitting in a similar position when Frank Lampard’s goal was disallowed, which finished up halfway in the back of the net.

    I mean, it’s two yards in, and nobody gives it. I think from that, that was the most ridiculous example of we needed something to sort that out, and we did, and it’s good, and it’s sensible. It’s in or out. It’s quite clear.”

  • Hurst believes VAR is ineffective as it still doesn’t prevent wrong decisions:

    “They go across and take the time now to look at it in slow motion on a screen, and they still come up with the wrong decision. I mean, you could accept the referee’s decision if he’s given a decision quick, and he may get it wrong.

    But when you get a guy to go and look at a screen for 10 minutes and they still make the same wrong decision, it is absolutely ridiculous.

    So, it’s a joke.”

  • Speaking on whether goal line technology would have interfered with his World Cup goal in 1996, Sir Geoff commented:

    “Well, it would have an impact because it would have shown quite clearly that the goal was at least a yard over the line. That would have been quite clear.”

Full Transcript:

You spoke eloquently about the changes in the game, and how it’s changed from your day. One of the big changes in recent years has been the introduction of technology. What are your thoughts on that? Has it had a positive impact, or can you just see the negative at the moment?

It’s a joke.

It’s a joke. If I had the time to list all the ridiculous decisions on TV that senior ex-players have remarked on in saying how ridiculous these decisions have been this season.

Goal-line technology I was always in favour of providing it didn’t interfere with the pace of the game. And they’ve got a system now – in a second, you know whether it’s in or out. Perfect. And that was needed, categorically. The rest of it, where referees are going across to screens now, there’s some awful decisions being made.

They’re getting these finite decisions out with a line across the pitch. I haven’t got them all to hand, but there have been lots and lots and lots of them. If I’d have been doing a full interview on that, I could research and find out how many bloody decisions I’ve seen on Sky, week-in and week-out throughout the season.

One of the more recent ones, of course, affected West Ham, where Dawson got sent off. He cleared the ball, but his follow through carried on and hit the opposing player, and he got sent off. Absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Then exactly the same thing happened with the West Ham right back, cleared the ball again, knocked into, I think it was Chilwell, and nothing given. It was exactly the same thing.

Giving the first one was just a catastrophic, ridiculous decision from anybody that’s not played the game. And they go across and take the time now to look at it in slow motion on a screen, and they still come up with the wrong decision.

I mean, you could accept the referee’s decision if he’s given a decision quick, and he may get it wrong. But when you got a guy to go and look at a screen for 10 minutes and then make the same wrong decision, it is absolutely ridiculous. So it’s a joke.

It is a joke. I think they’ve got lucky in a way that there’s no fans in the stadium as well because they would have reacted in a very loud way to what was going on.

I think they’d been on the pitch. They would. Yes, it’s elbows offside. It’s shoelaces offside. One classic, I’ll mention one more which was really a stupid one, there was a game where somebody played a ball from left back out to a right winger on the halfway line. So, the right wing has got it, he now plays four or five passes with other members of his team. And after a couple of minutes or a minute or so, they score. They go back to this first ball played to the right winger who was an inch offside just over the halfway line.

No impact on the game at all, it was another four or five or six or seven passes, and then they eventually scored. Absolutely ridiculous. I mean, I could go on. I haven’t got them all in front of me, but I’ve summed it up. Ridiculous.

Did you gather that I don’t like it? Have you got this?

I think I’ve got the gist of it, yes. But goal-line technology you said you are in favour of, which would have had an impact on the famous goal in the World Cup. It would have ended the debate, I guess, if it was over the line or not.

Well, it would have an impact because it would have shown quite clearly with VAR, the goal was at least a yard over the line. That would have been quite clear.

And there’s no debate in your mind. And I think we all know that it was over the line obviously.

It would have been a debate. I was at the game when we talked about goal-line technology being introduced. I was at the game sitting in a similar position when Frank Lampard’s goal was disallowed, which finished up halfway in the back of the net. And I’m level now, in sitting in the ground, the linesman the other side. And everybody in our section of crowd said, well, that’s a joke.

I mean, it’s two yards in, and nobody gives it. I think from that, that was the most ridiculous example of we needed something to sort that out, and we did, and it’s good, and it’s sensible. It’s in or out. It’s quite clear. No time at all. It comes on a referee’s watch or his earpiece, and that’s been great. Following it on, I think it’s been an absolute disaster. And there’s no equivocal way of saying it. Absolute disaster.

Have you got the message about that? Don’t ask me the question again, please [laughs].

If you’d like to hear more of Sir Geoff Hurst’s thoughts on the current state of football in the UK, you can find more exclusive interviews discussing topics such as England’s chances at the EURO 2020 tournament, West Ham’s recent success, and the issue of dementia amongst long-standing players.

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