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The Future of the Beautiful Game: How the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Leading
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The Future of the Beautiful Game: How the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Leading

2022 FIFA World Cup is Leading the Way for Technology in Football

2022 FIFA World Cup : On the 27th of June 2010, England faced Germany at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Germans took the lead in the 20th minute thanks to a Miroslav Klose strike. It was the standout tie of the Round of 16 knockout stage and both sides were considered to be in with a chance of reaching the final. For England, it was dubbed as the last chance saloon for their golden generation, which included the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, John Terry and Wayne Rooney. Germany doubled their lead in the 32nd minute, this time as a result of a tidy Lukas Podolski finish. England looked down and out. However, in the 37th minute, an opportune header by Matthew Upson from a short corner brought England back to life. 

Spurred on by the goal, the Three Lions launched an assault on the German defence. With a loose ball bouncing in the direction of Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, he struck the ball off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal. As he wheeled away in celebration, he soon realised that the referee, Jorge Larrionda, had not blown his whistle to signal a goal. But it had crossed line, it was surely a goal. The players could see it, the fans could see it, even those watching at home could see it. But alas, the whistle never came. It was a goal, or to put it more appropriately, a non-goal, that would change football forever. There had been close calls and errors before, but this was different. The ball was 2 yards over the line and the stakes were simply too high to allow something like this to ever happen again. It was time for something to change. That change, was the true entering of technology into the game of football.

Fast forward to today and the latest potential use of technology is set to take place at the Football World Cup 2022 in Qatar. But before looking into this latest development, lets take a look at how technology had changed the beautiful game as a result of that non-goal back in 2010.

2022 FIFA World Cup

Goal Line Technology

As a direct result of the infamous Frank Lampard goal that never was, goal line technology was first tested by FIFA in 2011 before being approved for use by the IFAB in 2012. It was first used at the World Cup in 2014 and is now used in the majority of professional leagues in club football.

This is one piece of technology that does exactly what it should, when it should. When the ball crosses the line, an encrypted alert is sent directly to the referee’s smartwatch in under a second. From here, the referee blows their whistle just as they would when making any other decision in order to confirm that a goal has been awarded.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

Four years later at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, VAR was used for the first time on the world stage. VAR allows for a variety of on-field incidents to be reviewed by a team of three individuals who can then either inform the referee to make a decision and/or advise him/her to review the incident themselves, by watching it on a television screen at the side of the pitch.

VAR is primarily used to review four types of incidents: goals, including offside decisions, potential red cards, fouls in the penalty box and, cases of mistaken identity. While it has been implemented and used in slightly different ways depending on the league it is used in, it has proved to be a success and, looks set to be part of football for the foreseeable future.

Automated Offside System

Finally, the 2022 World Cup will potentially see the introduction of the latest form of technology within the game of football, an automated offside system. One of the criticisms aimed at VAR is the time it takes for offside decisions being made, with many claiming it is taking away the joy of celebrating goals.

The automated offside system is set to eliminate this problem. The system will use twelve cameras to track each player and the ball. It will be able to calculate in under a second whether or not a player is in an offside or an onside position at the moment a pass is made in their direction. It will first be tested as a semi-automated system with the VAR officials acting as the middle men, but if deemed successful, it will become fully automated, transforming the sport forever.

One thing that is for sure is that technology is now an integral part of the game and its usage is only going to increase as technology progresses.

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