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Comment: Technology And The Beautiful Game In Partnership

Mon 12th Dec 2016 | IT & Technology

The use of technology in football has historically been a contentious issue. 

Fans or interested parties often argue that technology will slow the game down, provide an unfair advantage, make professional football unrecognisable from the grassroots game or even provide the “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” line of reasoning. 

However, with so much money invested in football, and so many jobs reliant on actions on and off the pitch, things need to run as smoothly as possible. That's why technology has become a part of the game and it’s imperative to know what’s out there right now.

Goal-line Technology

The English Premier League season commenced in August with all the stadiums in use furnished with goal-line technology. The system was required to perform on the first weekend of action when a Branislav Ivanovic header was hit straight at Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who saved on the line.

Referee Jonathan Moss felt no vibrations from his watch, so the decision not to award a goal was out of his hands and there were no protests from the Chelsea players or manager Jose Mourinho.

Replays confirmed the technology was functioning and hawk-eye's view of the incident was broadcast on television and on the big screen in the ground.

Due to the expense of goal-line systems, the technology is only currently used at the very top levels of the game and can be found being regularly used in the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga.

Vanishing Spray

We first saw it at the 2014 World Cup. Ever since then, vanishing spray has been used in the Premier League for officials to mark the 10 yards for defensive walls as well as initial positioning of a free kick.

The can contains water, butane gas, surfactant and other ingredients that form a useful visual marker for the officials before evaporating after around one minute leaving nothing but water residue. It is the referee's judgement that determines when the little can is required and it has proven to be a useful addition to the refs' kit.

 

Boots

Football boots have evolved from using classic natural leather materials to new form synthetic materials which make boots as light as possible. Nike and Adidas are the undisputed kings of football boots, with 58% of Premier League footballers wearing Nike and 34.5% donning Adidas.

Most major boot manufacturers have a range of products designed to suit different playing styles, such as Nike’s Mercurial for speed, the Hypervenom for agility and the Tiempo for touch. Generally, boot technology will focus on the key areas of weight, stability, speed, grip, traction and ball control.

Ball

2016/17 is the 16th Premier League season for which Nike has supplied the match ball. The Nike Geo Merlin was the ball of choice in 2000/01 and currently it's the Nike Ordem 4 that's being kicked around.

The speed at which Premier League football is played has increased and the balls are designed to keep pace with the players. The top balls these days boast visual acuity to help the players catch sight of them more quickly, facilitating rapid decision-making. They also have features that enhance flight movement and shape retention.

There are also training balls such as the miCoach Smart Ball, which is constructed with sensor technology that allows players to analyse the power, spin, strike and trajectory of their free-kicks or other dead-ball situations.

Betting Technology

Off the pitch, in-play betting has allowed fans to weigh up the action during a match before placing a bet and this instant betting technology provides users with the chance to trade their position on a bet while the match is in full flow. The technology used on online betting sites also keeps customers informed with instant calculations to apprise punters of the potential rewards if the result(s) go their way. 

For example, bitcoin casino and sports betting site VegasCasino.io offers a "See Into the Future" option which calculates a bettor’s total return (stake back + profit). This type of technology could become more immersive in the near future with the upcoming application of Virtual Reality. 

On the pitch, things move at a slower pace, but the technologies that have been recently employed have been of massive benefit to the referees, as the element of human decision in the most important part of the game has been overtaken by systems that work.

Technology has also been of benefit to the players, as it enables them to express themselves and display their ability without restrictions. As technology creeps into modern football, issues of contention are more easily resolved, and the level of fairness that the world of football will always require is more easily reached.

Image: By Maxxl² (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 


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