Neil Humphreys: Football needs video technology
Video technology needs support, not whiny dinosaurs
Denzel Washington turns to the camera in disbelief. He swears and shakes his head, unable to take in the news.
Beneath the clip, the Twitter caption reads: "When Manchester United fans hear that the English Football Association wants video technology in England."
It's a funny clip doing the rounds on social media.
But the meme also summarises the nonsense being regurgitated after the use of a video assistant referee in the France-Spain friendly yesterday morning (Singapore time.)
For some, the image of referee Felix Zwayer pushing a finger into his ear to hear the tiny microphone like Jason Bourne tracking down an offside culprit was too much to bear.
Sitting in an English TV studio, Paul Ince declared video technology the end of the world as he knew it, the apocalyptic moment when machines defeated men.
It was judgment day with artificial intelligence ruling - correctly - in two crucial decisions that granted Spain a deserving 2-0 victory at the Stade de France.
Human error was part and parcel of the glory game, Ince declared. Football was born on the pitch but made in pubs and coffee shops across the world, generating endless discussion with one refereeing blunder after another.
All of which is patently nonsense being pandered, perhaps, by those with vested interests.
It's probably no coincidence that Ince played for England's two biggest clubs - Manchester United and Liverpool.
How many questionable decisions did Ince directly benefit from during his time at both Old Trafford and Anfield? How many marginal offsides or weak penalties were awarded to the hosts in front of a volatile Stretford End or a bouncing Kop?
No more human error means no more legendary "Fergie Time" and all that the expression entails; no more dubious decisions going in favour of the overbearing hosts on home soil.
Computer technology removes emotion and subjectivity from the equation and adjudicates impartially and correctly.
Antoine Griezmann's disallowed goal in the 48th minute was the perfect example of the dispassionate head overruling the jaundiced heart.
France's irrepressible No. 7 nodded in a "goal" that his artistry deserved.
At first glance, it was a clear goal. But Layvin Kurzawa was offside in the build-up, but only fractionally, the kind of distance beyond the naked eye's limitations.
In such situations, traditionally, the man in black goes with the odds, the baying crowd and home advantage. He plays safe and gives the goal, just as Russian linesman Tofiq Bahramov did in the 1966 World Cup final.
The common consensus among video experts, scientists and every German alive in the last 50 years remains that Geoff Hurst's strike did not cross the line and the debate has raged ever since.
According to traditionalists like Ince, that's what fans want.
The odd mistake and subsequent controversy makes football the greatest game. But is that really true?
Video replays proved that Diego Maradona used the hand of a cheat, rather than God, in the 1986 World Cup, as it also demonstrated that Frank Lampard's effort against Germany in the 2010 World Cup had crossed the line. Officials made the wrong decision on both occasions.
The Beautiful Game becomes an oxymoron when victory is determined not by sporting excellence, but by bureaucratic blunders.
Human error is, and always should be, part of the game, but only among its participants, not its administrators.
The counterargument, particularly after video technology not only ruled out Griezmann's header but also ruled in favour of Gerard Deulofeu's goal, is that artificial intelligence damages football's authenticity.
Footballers will be forced to put natural emotions on hold as the referee defers to the eye in the sky.
Certainly, the 30-odd seconds taken to review both "goals" made for incongruous scenes. Griezmann and Co. celebrated all the way back to the halfway line, before his header was chalked off.
Whilst Deulofeu's effort was ruled out and then awarded, creating a delayed celebration that lacked the spontaneity of an immediate, euphoric outburst.
But football is now too important, global and expensive (in terms of transfers, salaries and ticket prices) to get game-defining decisions wrong.
Thirty seconds of mild confusion is less damaging than a lifetime of recrimination and regret.