8/31 Technology Culture and the World Cup – Talia Feinberg

In Technology, Culture and the World Cup, Virgo presents a rather pessimistic perspective on technology through the lens of the 1986 World Cup in the sense of the power it holds in demolishing culture and passion.  

In the final half of the game between Argentina and England, Maradona (an Agrentinian player), scored a goal with his hand, deeming it to be an illegal play. In the moment, this was not caught as it was a time of extreme pride and celebration for the Argentinian people. It is important to note that this mistake was not caught until extensive use of technology in scrutinizing the play. However, this play, although illegal, was historically significant given that Argentina had just surpassed a time period of torture and dictatorship, as Maradona coined this play “The Hand of God”. 

After this game and the persistent criticism of the illegal play, FIFA introduced a new form of technology to prevent this from happening in the future called VAR (video assistant referee) which “would have certainly disqualified the ‘Hand of God’”. While it may seem that introducing VAR to the sport will increase fairness, Virgo explains that this takes away from the cultural passion behind the sport. This technology diminishes from the cultural statements behind such plays as the “Hand of God”. The implementation of VAR is through good intentions, but in a way, takes away from the passion behind the sport as it has roboticized the game. 

Had VAR been a feature of the 1986 Final Cup, this monumental and symbolic moment for the Argentinians would have gone neglected as the video assistant referee would have been able to catch the mistake amidst the celebration. While it brings an increase in fairness, it is debatable whether or not it is necessary to go to these extremes while also taking away from the passion behind the plays. 

2 thoughts on “8/31 Technology Culture and the World Cup – Talia Feinberg

  1. Just to play devil’s advocate, while it makes sense that VAR would have taken the passion out of the “Hand of God” play, it may have just as easily added passion to England’s team, and even taken out some hatred for an illegal win. “Roboticizing” anything definitely takes out a real human aspect, but it also can step in where we are fallible, which could be helpful.

  2. I personally didn’t focus this article, but I think you did a great job of contextualizing the events of the 1986 World Cup. It is impossible to know how soccer history would have been different if VAR was around to catch the “Hand of God.” As you point out, the technology has the ability to change the nature of the game. This makes me think about the popular debate about intent vs. impact. The intent of the VAR technology is to make soccer more fair, but we would be doing the sport a disservice to ignore the impact of the technology – which is the potential loss of passion and culture in sport.

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