The FIFA World Cup 2014 concluded recently with the Germans lifting the coveted trophy for the fourth time. From the unceremonious exit of the giants to the sheer brilliance exhibited by the underdogs, this world cup was filled with drama, disappointment and delight. Adding to the intensity of this year’s goal-fest, the football fans finally saw some advanced technology in action for the first time in a football world cup. However, it wasn’t easy for technology to make its way into the beautiful game. Let us take a look at its history, present and the future prospects.
What it is:
The goal-line technology is a camera-based technology that vibrates an official’s watch almost instantaneously when the ball completely crosses the goal line. It uses 14 high speed cameras situated all across the stadium to trace the trajectory of the ball in order to determine whether the ball crossed the goal line or not. Using powerful software and secure cryptography, the information is transmitted to the referee. But in case of no goal, the match is not disrupted.
The vanishing foam is a temporary white spray that a centre official keeps on his belt to mark the exact position from where free kicks should be taken and to establish the 10 yard distance from the ball that the opposition’s wall must observe. This helps to check the teams from gaining illegal ground during free-kicks. The spray consists of 80% water and 20% butane with a small amount of surfactant. When released from the can, butane expands due to pressure changes forming small visible droplets covered with water. Butane evaporates eventually and the marks disappear in a minute.
How it began:
The technology now in use was available for over a decade but was resisted from encroaching into the sport fearing it would open a Pandora’s Box into its more widespread use. FIFA president, Blatter staunchly opposed its use as he argued that human error was part of the game and technology would only hamper the fluidity as well as the universality of the game taking away the excitement, drama and intensity or in other words, ‘the human nature’ of the sport. But a shot by England’s Frank Lampard in the 2010 FIFA World Cup versus Germany turned the tables. It was clear to everyone but the referee that the ball had crossed the line. This ‘ghost goal’ made even Blatter hail the goal-line technology as ‘a necessity’. After intense wrangling, FIFA moved forward with its implementation in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 for trial purposes and later in the FIFA World Cup 2014.
How it faired:
The goal-line technology was first used to make a very tight call in favour of France during its opening match against Honduras, re-instating its importance despite the exorbitant price. However, the world cup was nonetheless marred by controversies. Suarez’s biting Chiellini that went unnoticed by the referees, Mexico’s clear goals incorrectly disallowed on offside grounds against Cameroon, Brazil being awarded a controversial penalty against Croatia- the list of poor officiating decisions that catapulted several matches goes on. This opened yet another fresh debate for using additional technology like instant video replay to aid the referee and promote fair play.
What we can expect:
The football fans tormented by poor officiating in the matches were in for a relief when Blatter recently announced rough guidelines for the use of instant video-replay technology in future. "We should give another help to the referee and a little bit more justice to the game by giving the coaches a so-called challenge call, so that they have a challenge call twice in a half,” he said. The offside calls would continue to remain incontrovertible but the penalty calls and the like could be discussed. However, no time-frame has been provided for its adoption and the arguments from both sides still ensue.
Do you think that the technology would render the beautiful game “Playstation football”, ripping it off its tradition? Or, that it is indispensable to limit errors and also possibly root out match-fixing? Techkriti would like to hear from you whether you believe that technology is a boon or a bane for football.