It is no secret that technology has infiltrated a growing number of sectors in recent years and the sporting industry is no different with football, in particular, the welcome recipient of a wide range of technological applications within the past couple of decades alone. It can introduce much-needed solutions for ongoing problems that may otherwise be missed and even shape the future of the sport forevermore. If you are an avid football fan or just enjoy keeping up to date with the latest technological updates to impact the ways in which you view and engage with the beautiful game, continue reading to familiarise yourself with various applications of technology in football as technology continues to play a central role.
- Video assistant referee
In 2018, the sporting world was in the process of gearing up for the highly anticipated commencement of the 2018 FIFA World Cup as it kicked off in Russia. It was the introduction of a cutting-edge technology by the name of Video Assistant Referee, or VAR, however, that appeared to be dominating headlines around the world. It was designed to streamline the process of officiating football matches and, in doing so, identify errors that would have otherwise gone unnoticed earlier in the game. It does so by supporting the referees on the pitch from a centralised video operations room and with the assistance of a number of assistants, replay operators, and offside cameras with unrestricted access to a staggering 33 camera feeds dotted throughout the stadium ensuring they never miss a slice of the action. In the years since, it has successfully reversed decision-making errors and led to a greater sense of accuracy during the reporting of professional football matches worldwide.
- Sports betting
It may not necessarily impact the in-person fan experience, but the rising popularity of sports betting in recent years has transformed the ways in which fans engage with football in more ways than ever before by being able to wager on their favourite players and teams and, in doing so, predict the outcome of an upcoming amateur of professional match. It has also led to greater accessibility and flexibility within the sport itself with fans being able to keep up to date with the latest updates and developments from the comfort of their own homes as well as on the go as they visit some of the top sites for sports betting on their desktop or smartphone with some of the top sites fully optimised for mobile compatibility or even home to their own separate mobile app. This is largely due to a series of technological advancements that have emerged in recent years and allowed football fans to interact with the sport on a deeper level.
- Electronic performance and tracking systems
Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems, or EPTS, is the name given to the process of applying camera-based and wearable technologies to players in an attempt to control, and subsequently improve, both player and team performance. It was primarily designed to track the position of the player in relation to the ball on the pitch but has since evolved to operate in conjunction with a number of additional technologies including microelectronic devices, accelerometers, gyroscopes, heart-rate monitors, and devices designed to measure load or several physiological factors. They include, but are not limited to, optical-based camera systems, local positioning systems, and GPS systems. In addition, they can also be used alongside devices to provide accurate information on inertial load and even medical history with devices usually distributed amongst an analyst in the stands, an analyst on the bench, and an appointed team of medical professionals.
In 2001, Hawk-Eye was first introduced to the world of professional football and has enjoyed great success in the years since. In 20 years, it has experienced rapid growth and development and is now considered to be one of the most successful applications of technology in the entire history of the sport as well as other sports including tennis and cricket. It is comprised of a number of cameras that are positioned to focus on both goal-lines and capture images at a rate of 600 frames per second. It can provide accurate reporting to deliver a definitive decision in a matter of nanoseconds and, in doing so, determine whether or not the ball has fully crossed the line before relaying this information to the central referee in the form of an audible beep. In professional games or global tournament matches, however, referees tend to be equipped with a headset or smartwatch that allows them to receive this information both quickly and conveniently.
- Smart ball
In what has become one of the most promising application of technology in football in recent years, Smart Ball is the brainchild of Cairos Technologies and Adidas and is the name given to the process of embedding a sensor, or NFC chip, into a ball in an attempt to track its position in real-time. It is done through the installation of a network of receivers throughout the pitch and was designed to determine when the ball has fully crossed the line with unmatched accuracy. In doing so, it will also notify match officials with the information it gathers readily available on a receiver that is usually worn by the referee. It has enjoyed great success across professional football leagues throughout the world, including Major League Soccer, European Leagues, and American Leagues, and is poised to continue evolving in the coming years with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
In the past decade, a number of emerging technological advancements have transformed the ways in which fans, players, and managers alike view and engage with the beautiful game on a global scale. In response, this has resulted in the introduction of Video Assistant Referee, sports betting, Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems, Hawk-Eye, and Smart Ball, just to name a few, with football fans now able to benefit from greater accessibility and flexibility than ever before.