The start of the Confederations Cup this weekend saw the introduction of ‘Video Assistant Referee’ (VAR) for the first time in a major tournament.
And it wasn’t without controversy as a number of decisions were overturned amid chaos on and off the field, just days after similar blunders in the international friendly between France and England.
In that encounter Dele Alli was wrongfully awarded a penalty for the Three Lions while the referee hastily dismissed Frenchman Raphaël Varane in seemingly over-reliance on the technology.
So far the Confederations Cup, the pre-amble to next year’s World Cup in Russia, has witnessed missed penalty decisions and goals ruled out for offside, while genuine goals and the exuberant celebrations that naturally follow are temporarily suspended while VAR is consulted.
Instead of enhancing the game, it appears to be stifling it – football is fundamentally about passion and talking points, of which both are being squeezed from the game with this new initiative.
The technology means referees are allowed to call for a second opinion via video footage replays viewed by off-field assistants for issues surrounding goals, penalty decisions, red card incidents and mistaken identity in bookings.
Communicating via a headset, the referee can take advice from VAR’s but ultimately he has the final say, meaning mistakes can still be made if the man in the middle refuses to use the technology and sticks with his original decision.
There is also no appeal process available to coaching staff with the lack of reviews for incidents such as yellow cards or corners also a bone of contention in the technology’s introduction.
Then there is the issue of when a player is in a goalscoring opportunity only to be called back for VAR to see if he is offside, with any advantage and momentum being lost should he have been incorrectly called back.
So instead of minimising mistakes and taking officials out of the firing line over contentious decisions that are made week-in, week-out, it has further compounded their problems.
Although goal line technology has acclimatised to the game and helped, not hindered, with minimum fuss and deliberation, this latest proposal is a step too far.
Advocates will argue the technology needs time to bed in but football is ultimately not a sport like rugby, cricket or hockey that can be easily adjustable without changing the entire dynamics.
Unlike those other already stop-start sports where VAR is in use, the beautiful game is about free-flowing momentum and controversy.
The latter is the pantomime villain supporters love to hate – continually espousing the injustices post-match of inept refereeing decisions and goals that never were.
Who can ever forget ‘The Hand of God’? Or even those Leeds United fans that still crow about being unjustly denied the title of ‘The Champions of Europe’.
What will happen to the unbridled instant joy a crucial goal will bring if there has to be a moments’ pause for it to be referred to a Video Assistant Referee for cross-reference?
What will happen to the phone-ins, analysis and key talking points? Undoubtedly diluted in a soulless post-game vacuum as there will not be anything to talk about, leaving the inane stock press answers already too frequently used by managers and players alike.
This summer’s trial not only precedes the World Cup but with the German Bundesliga already confirming its use next season, it is something those resistant to change may be forced to live with in the foreseeable future.
Historically, the people of Yorkshire are not known for embracing change, dating back to the Luddite movement resisting the 19th century Industrial Revolution.
By destroying machinery in textile mills across West Yorkshire, their demonstration at the time was seen as a heroic stand for workers’ rights but was inevitably futile.
Nearly 200 years on, and while many supporters may want to pull the plug on ‘progress’ yet again, it may be something they may not have any control or say over.
But until VAR comes in, let’s embrace the talking points it brings because they may be the last ones we have to deliberate before the machines take over entirely...