Football is considering following cricket's example in making key decisions with the aid of television evidence.
Fifa, the world game's governing body, has been discussing the use of a "second referee" in a conference in Monte Carlo this week. The official could judge disputed goals, penalties and sending-offs from a monitor in the stand. Such a system is similar to cricket's "third umpire" who rules on leg-before-wicket and run-out appeals.
The impetus for such a move comes from television companies in Europe and the United States. Football has long been unpopular with some television executives because its constant flow prevents advertisements being shown during play. Fifa has already experimented with the use of time-outs in the recent Under-17 World Championships.
Though officially designed to give coaches the chance to talk to players, the time-outs also allow for more commercial breaks. With television replays deciding disputes, there would be up to a two-minute delay - long enough for a short advertisement.
To its credit, Fifa is not convinced and Sepp Blatter, the general secretary, argued against the idea in Monte Carlo. He was supported by Michel Vautrot, a former World Cup referee, but another French World Cup official, Joel Quiniou, declared himself in favour after taking part in a recent experiment.
Maradona's "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 finals was cited as an example of where injustice could have been prevented. However, opponents noted that, had such a system been in use in 1966, England and West Germany might still be arguing about whether Geoff Hurst's second "goal" crossed the line or not.
Last year the German and Turkish FAs overturned results after video evidence. Fifa later censured both FAs and stated that video evidence could only be used in judging disciplinary measures.
One delegate with first-hand evidence of how the principle can work was David Richards, the chief executive of the International Cricket Council. However, cricket is a game with natural breaks in play. Football's momentum, one of its great strengths, could be severely disrupted by such a practice.Reuse content