Paris - The experiment with video assistance that backfired on France against Spain earned mixed reviews Wednesday, praised for fairness but condemned for killing the spectacle.
France lost 2-0 in Paris on Tuesday in a game in which the Spanish side benefitted twice from crucial video assistant referee decisions. A goal against the Spanish was disallowed after it was ruled off-side in consultation with the video and a Spanish goal disallowed by the referee for offside was validated by the video review.
For the French, who decided to trial video assistance for the first time at the friendly match, the outcome was galling, even though fans and players recognised the justice and potential benefits of the system.
"If it allows you to correct mistakes, as has been the case here, even though it went against us, that seems to me to be good for justices in sport," said French coach Didier Deschamps.
Spanish counterpart Julen Lopetegui had no arguments with how the decisions played out for his team.
"The refereeing resolved the two actions in a fair manner," he said.
However, it was clear on the night that the video process quickly wore out its welcome when it took more than 10 minutes each time, throwing cold water on the spectacle itself.
It might be fair, admitted French captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, "but is also kills off the joy of scoring a goal".
French striker Antoine Griezmann headed in what appeared to be the opening goal at the Stade de France shortly after half-time, triggering delight in the stands and on the field after France had suffered Spanish dominance throughout the first period. Then came the appeal and the long wait for a verdict.- Wait to celebrate -
"It is a pain because you have to wait before you can celebrate the goal," he said.
For team-mate Kevin Gameiro, the flow of the match is lost and the lengthy process "breaks the beauty of the game".
The 80,000 spectators at the stadium were left out of the process with no video slow-motion screen to view and saw only the hand gestures of the referee, framing the shape of a TV screen, to show that he wanted a video review.
"That dehumanises the game a bit, and can detract from the spectacle," said former referee Bruno Derrien.
"Football is about sentiments, including that of injustice. Video takes responsibility away from the assistant referees. If I was an assistant I wouldn't lift the flag to call offside anymore because you have video to decide all that."
Use of technology to assist referees favoured by FIFA head Gianni Infantino was first introduced in the 2014 World Cup to determine whether the ball had crossed the goal-line in scoring situations. The process was simple and uncontroversial, unlike the use of video assistance which can sometimes be tricky and require fine judgement.
For Pascal Caribian, the head of refereeing at the French Fotball Federation, there should be no rush to judgement about video assistance which is currently undergoing a two-year trial with a view to possible intoduction at next year's World Cup in Russia.
"It is really necessary to have a large number of games before your judge," he said, saying it was not by chance that FIFA and IFAB, which oversees the rules of the game, have asked for a two-year trial period.