Sports and technology have forever been linked together, with the latter helping different aspects of the games played out in courts, stadiums, and fields. However, this integration of tech in sports has taken time. Different games adopted technology on various occasions, as and when necessary. Football, in particular, has been quite late to the table, holding back on some of the very basics until recently.
Undoubtedly, football is a highly intense game with constant action taking place on the field, near the ball and also elsewhere.
A hugely competitive sport with money and emotions attached to it, it consists of several instances where a wrong decision can cause much disappointment for the player, fans, and punters. So, the last decade has particularly seen football change its ways and laws to accommodate technology and ideas that can help make the game fairer and more entertaining.
Technology, at its very fundamental best, the use of foam first came into the limelight during the 2014 Brazil World Cup. A simple can, filled with sprayable temporary foam, allowed referees to draw a line to keep defending players at a distance of 10-yards during free kicks. Some critics find the foam to be useless, but there is no denying that it has helped save on time that referees would previously spend trying to get players in line.
A Video Assistance Referee or VAR is the football version of a third-umpire. Surprisingly, even with several instances of proven incorrect calls by referees over the years, football took its sweet time to incorporate VAR as part of its laws. FIFA implemented the use of VAR first during the Russian World Cup in 2018, to help with four types of decision; goals, penalty, red cards, and mistaken identity. However, the final decision on any incident remains with the referee who can simply choose to overlook whatever VAR suggests.
The very latest in technology we are witnessing in football is the addition of “fake” sound effects whenever there is a behind-closed-doors game in play. The ambient crowd sounds allow viewers watching the game at home to get a more realistic feel of the event, thus keeping its entertaining integrity in place. Moreover, there are now more sound sensors around the field. A positive aspect of which is that they pick up player conversations and bring them closer to the viewing public than ever before.
Gaming and Betting
A slightly different use of technology, associated with football, is visible in the world of gambling and gaming. While sports betting continues to grow, the latest from bookmakers are virtual games. Events comprising of computer-generated matches in which punters can bet like in real-life, virtual games can be enjoyed at any time. Similarly, the rise of esports means more FIFA video game tournaments are being held across the globe. Lastly, fantasy league, made easier to manage because of mobile technology and instant updates, has become a bona fide source of fun and a possible money-making venture for many.