Football (or soccer as known in the US) is the largest single sporting event in the world! Atleast 1 in every 7 people follow the game as it happens ie; more than a billion people! Since it is a multibillion-dollar industry followed by billions of people around the world, it too has undergone the digital transformation.
Technology has always played a critical and crucial role for the broadcasters, organizers and spectators of the event, but in Russia 2018, the impact of tech on the pitch itself is unimaginable.
With the debut of goal line technology in Brazil 2014 World Cup, this year will see the advent of video assisted referees (VAR), a development which is almost certain to make headlines.
On and off the field, the above is not the only technological development taking place. Like home automation is to homes, FIFA has opted for features like VAR, 4K UHD Video & VR, Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems, 5G and the Adidas Telstar ball. These features make the 2018 World Cup – a grand affair.
Through VAR, referees can refer “game changing situations” such as goals, penalties and red cards with the video referees. With a dedicated video assistant referee team that is comprised of a lead VAR and three assistant VARs, this is truly a game-changer!
4K UHD VIDEO & VR
BBC has introduced VR to the mix of experiences provided by it. But there is a slight catch; matches will only be available online via the BBC iPlayer – not via television – and that the streams will be a first-come first-served basis. That means, only 10,000 or so of people will be able to watch at any one time.
ELECTRONIC PERFORMANCE AND TRACKING SYSTEMS
The EPTS, a tablet-based system, gives coaches of all 32 teams, access to player statistics (stats such as player positioning data, passing, pressing, speed and tackles) and video footage in real time.Every team is supplied with three tablets – one for an analyst in the stand, one for an analyst on the bench and another for the medical team.
Although a little too early for 5G, Russia is holding trials of the technology during the event. Expected to be commercially available in 2019, they deliver faster speeds, greater capacity and ultra-low latency. This means better connectivity for fans in a soccer stadium in the future as well as new experiences.
ADIDAS’S TELSTAR 18
A reimagining of Adidas’s first World Cup ball, Adidas’s Telstar 18 features a “brand new carcass and panel design” which it claims to improve performance & durability, both in the stadium and on the street.
But what tickles our senses is the inclusion of a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip. Although the functionality is limited to product information and challenges, it’s the first time an NFC chip has ever been included in a football!