- Author Gary Parkinson
- Published May 28, 2014
How tech will change football this summer
The global appeal of football is partly its simplicity: all you need is a ball and some space to kick it. But things get interesting when technology is applied to this most popular of sports. Here, we look at the finest appliance of science to the beautiful game.
Goal! Or was it? The ref’s not checking his watch because he’s left the oven on: the GoalControl system will ping a signal to his wrist to tell him whether all the ball crossed all the line. The system used in Brazil is different to the HawkEye variant used by the Premier League from 2013/14. This one uses seven cameras trained beadily on each goal, capturing 500 frames per second and producing a location accurate to within 5mm. That’s well within the FIFA’s 30mm requirement, but still enough for decision victims to complain about a conspiracy.
Knitted boots (no, really)
Some seasoned football hacks checked the date wasn’t April 1st when Nike announced the release of knitted boots for this summer’s World Cup. It wasn’t, and they have: using Flyknit technology, the Magista – favoured by ball-players like Spain’s Andres Iniesta and Germany’s Mario Gotze – wraps around your ankle like a glove wraps around your wrist, although presumably you can’t get the equivalent of fingerless gloves: toeless boots would be silly, you don’t have opposable big toes. Perhaps Nike should target the orang-utan market.
Forever slashing the ball high, wide and horrendously off-target? What you need is a ball that tells you how to hit it, like the Adidas miCoach Smart Ball. This clever little orb comes replete with 12 internal sensors, secured by Kevlar (of bullet-proof vest fame), which measure power, spin, impact position and trajectory. Sync this via Bluetooth to your phone – or perhaps your manager’s – and an app will process your stats before suggesting video tutorials from the pros. Significantly better than a 99p fly-away from the local newsagent.
Not a John Peel band, or how Cristiano Ronaldo keeps his quiff so defiant of gravity, but the latest new weapon in the referee’s armoury. Having awarded a free-kick and paced out 9.15m – oh all right, 10 yards – refs in Brazil will produce an aerosol and spray on the pitch like smartly-dressed tag artists, clearly demarking the distance that the offending team should retreat, and stopping them naughtily tiptoeing forward when his back’s turned. Fear not: the biodegradable Aero Comex Futline spray will disappear after about a minute. A bit like hope.
ULTRA HD 4K filming
Ever wanted to watch Wayne Rooney with imagery so clear you can see sweat pour from every pore? Well, probably not, but football will be the catalyst for the next great leap forward in TV technology. Ultra HD – also known as 4K – is as big an improvement on HD TV as that was on standard definition, approximately quadrupling the 1080-pixel HD imagery. Some of the matches this summer will be filmed in 4K, and you can already buy the TVs: we won’t argue with the rectangle-eyed experts at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, who described the LG 84LM960V as “stunning”.
You’re watching a game and you think “Here, this left-back couldn’t find a team-mate even with a map and a Sherpa guide”. But being a knowledgeable type, you know you need facts to back up your opinion. So you consult Stats Zone, available in your browser at FourFourTwo.com, which instantly updates Opta stats for dozens of actions from crosses to interceptions. You prove your point, sharing your screen to social media. The world acknowledges your perspicacity, and Alan Hansen weeps.
Like most good ideas, the whistle was invented in ancient times by either the Chinese (who blew into acorn tops) or the Egyptians (papyrus between the palms). The pea-based brass whistle, later sold in hugely profitable numbers to police forces, made its debut in an FA Cup match between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield in 1878, 15 years after the newly formed FA officially codified the rules and a mere three decades after referees appeared; before that they simply waved handkerchiefs. In other late-breaking developments, the crossbar only replaced tape in 1875, while goal nets didn’t arrive until 1890.
Gary Parkinson is editor of www.fourfourtwo.com.
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