LONDON • To say the video assistant referee (VAR) system, which is being trialled in the Cup competitions this season, has not had an easy introduction to English football would be understating things.
VAR once again became the flashpoint despite Tottenham Hotspur romping to a 6-1 win over Rochdale in their FA Cup fifth-round replay on Wednesday, with Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino saying the system could "kill emotion in football".
Spurs, who got a second-half hat-trick from Fernando Llorente, were twice denied goals and had one penalty claim rejected on the word of the VAR during an extraordinary opening period at Wembley.
Once again, technology was the main talking point of a match where Son Heung Min put Spurs ahead only for Stephen Humphrys to equalise before Rochdale, bottom of third-tier League One, hit the post through Andy Cannon.
Llorente's treble put the result beyond doubt, with Son scoring a second goal and substitute Kyle Walker-Peters grabbing his maiden goal in stoppage time.
Pochettino's joy at seeing Spurs set up an FA Cup quarter-final with Swansea was tempered by his concern about the impact of VAR.
"I'm not sure that system is going to help," he said. "We love the game we know, football is about emotion but if we are going to kill emotion, then people who love football will not be happy.
THE KEY INCIDENTS
The VAR rules for a Fernando Llorente foul before Erik Lamela's tap-in.
Referee Paul Tierney gives Tottenham a penalty after the VAR intervened to rule that Matt Done's foul on Kieran Trippier had continued into the area.
Spurs' Son Heung Min is shown a yellow card for stopping in the run-up to his kick and the VAR chalks off his penalty.
"My worry is now we are talking about a machine and not football."
Spurs' Danny Rose echoed his comments, labelling VAR as "shambolic" and an "absolute disgrace".
Fifa president Gianni Infantino has said that he wants to use VAR at the World Cup and law-making body, the International Football Association Board, is expected to decide tomorrow whether to authorise its use on a permanent basis.
Banned former Fifa president Sepp Blatter weighed in yesterday, saying the Cup should not be used as "an occasion to experiment".
Spurs thought they had taken an early lead thanks to Erik Lamela but referee Paul Tierney, after consulting VAR Graham Scott, ruled it out. Llorente was adjudged to have tugged back defender Harrison McGahey in the build-up.
Tierney consulted the VAR again to deny Lucas Moura a penalty, and after another lengthy consultation, Spurs were awarded a spot-kick for a foul on Kieran Trippier.
Son then netted the penalty, only for Tierney to disallow the effort because he had stopped in his run-up and the eventual decision was preceded by yet more prolonged involvement of the VAR.
There have been several controversial VAR incidents this term notably during West Bromwich Albion's 3-2 FA Cup fourth-round win over Liverpool during which the Baggies had a goal disallowed after a four-minute decision-making process.
And fans have no way of knowing the reasons behind the VAR's decisions because unlike the systems in use for rugby and cricket, they are not broadcasted on a screen.
Premier League clubs will meet next month, when a decision could be made to employ VAR next season. Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has revealed he will not be voting in favour of the system, saying "football was going down an extremely dangerous road".
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS