Neil Humphreys: Video will kill referee farce
Technology must be introduced to avoid another Real disgrace
Video assistant referees (Var) must be introduced not to spare officials, but to save the integrity of the game itself.
Real Madrid's victory against Bayern Munich yesterday morning (Singapore time) - 4-2 after extra time in the second-leg clash and 6-3 on aggregate - was a sporting travesty and a stinging slap in the face for the superior German giants.
That much was obvious.
Arturo Vidal's sending-off was absurd, handing both the initiative and the subsequent victory to the Spanish side.
Casemiro was a more deserving recipient of a second yellow card, but somehow escaped punishment and two of Cristiano Ronaldo's goals were offside.
That much was also obvious.
So pundits and punters alike are out with their pitchforks, pointlessly haranguing referee Viktor Kassai and his fellow Hungarian officials for crimes that are not entirely of their making.
The real culprits in this instance are Uefa's archaic powerbrokers for not tackling the issue at source, happy once again to hide behind the scapegoats in black.
OFFICIALS CAN'T KEEP UP
Kassai, and particularly the linesmen, are victims of a modern game they can no longer keep up with, quite literally.
When the galloping Marcelo released Ronaldo, allowing the Portuguese piston to complete his hat-trick in extra time, the real story was barely caught on camera.
A panting linesman was struggling to stay in frame, losing the strength of his convictions with every laboured stride.
It was the state of play in microcosm. The game has overtaken its officials.
As perfect specimens of fat-free muscle, Marcelo and Ronaldo work with scientists and dieticians to smash through the ceiling of human speed and endeavour. They leave linesmen trailing.
The men in black are chasing unstoppable automatons, reaching levels of sustained performance that were considered unthinkable just a decade ago.
As a result, a gripping Champions League quarter-final ended in ignominy.
Ronaldo's stunning hat-trick, Marcelo's tenacity and the potential of 21-year-old Marco Asensio were unfairly overshadowed, lost in a morass of substandard officiating.
VAR would've ensured that only the footballers were remembered, relegating Kassai to an irrelevant footnote.
VAR technology has already been extensively road-tested, most recently and successfully in last month's friendly between France and Spain.
The Spaniards prevailed 2-0, but the fact that the fixture barely registers is because the use of VAR ruled correctly in two contentious decisions, whereas Bayern's scandalous defeat will live on in infamy.
Conspiracy theorists are already arguing that the delay in introducing VAR props up the elite, allowing Real to win their "homer".
The referee probably wasn't up to the task. I had never been in favour of video technology, but I must admit it's necessary now.Bayern Munich coach Carlo Ancelotti
They benefitted from home advantage, a hostile crowd, a global fanbase and an impetuous, impatient club with power in all the right places to influence the officials.
It's a hackneyed, predictable theory, perhaps, but just consider the worldwide indignation had the same refereeing mistakes gone against the likes of Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos, Zinedine Zidane and Florentino Perez's band of globetrotting brothers.
PLAYERS WILL GET FASTER
Only the introduction of video technology, in real time, will end the rumour-mongering and support the trailing officials.
The gap between the Hungarian league and a Champions League quarter-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in terms of technique and fitness is a chasm; i.e. the distance between the linesman and Ronaldo as Marcelo slipped through his killer pass.
Europe's leading strikers get within touching distance of Olympic sprinters as they devour the first 10 metres to shake off defenders.
Unless Usain Bolt fancies swopping his track spikes for a linesman's flag when he retires, mistakes will only increase as footballers get faster.
Of course, human error cannot be dismissed either. Kassai didn't need to run a sub-10 100m to see that Vidal's tackle was clean or that Ronaldo's second goal was two metres offside.
He just needed a video replay.
Human error should define sporting contests, but only those committed by sportsmen. Mats Hummels was almost as slow as the linesman in tracking Real's forwards and Philipp Lahm missed Ronaldo's run before the striker headed home.
But matches as magnificent as this one can no longer be defined by the errors of officials. When their fingerprints are left on the scoreline, they sully the contest.
Bayern Munich and the Champions League itself deserved better.
The game is too fast, too furious and too important to be entrusted to the human eye alone. Decision-making must be shared with video assistants.
With no fitness concerns, the camera never lies down on the job.