The global showpiece, which is the 2022 FIFA World Cup, has kicked off. This year’s football bonanza registers many firsts. For starters, it is the first FIFA World Cup held in the Gulf states. It is also the first to be held in the winter and the first to apply a whole host of tech improvements.
In this World Cup, technology attempts to modernize a game that holds tradition dear and is often unwilling to shed old cultures. Tracking technologies will be used in this tournament edition more than ever before.
Qatar is reported to have splurged a jaw-dropping $300 billion to build the tournament’s infrastructure. The World Cup is a chance for the Gulf nation to flaunt its swanky, high-tech solutions.
Here are some of the technologies shaping the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Developed by Adidas, the connected ball technology fitted on soccer balls used in the tournament is a first of its kind. The technology is meant to track the movement and impact of every header and kick on the pitch.
The sensor on the ball uses a rechargeable battery. It sends data to officials watching the game on video. They, in turn, review the data to resolve disputes when there are unclear touches and decide on offside decisions. Such applications are among the benefits of data manipulation in improving the game.
Balls equipped with motion sensors represent one facet of semi-automated offside tracking. This is a technology meant to reduce stoppage time when checking for offside during matches.
FIFA has 12 cameras deployed underneath the stadium roof. These track the ball and also have 29 trackable data points on players. These, for those wondering what is motion capture? and how does it work?, relay real time data about the player’s limbs on a given instance in time. According to FIFA, the cameras measure the data points on the player up to 50 times per second.
Data from limb and ball tracking applies artificial intelligence to give automated alerts when a player is offside. The alert is sent to the video operation room, indicating that an attacker was offside when the ball was played. To make things even more interesting, the technology will generate a 3D animation detailing the player’s position at the time the ball was played. This is displayed on the giant screens in the stadium.
Complaining about the calls in a match is one of the thrills of watching a football match. Video assistant referees have been introduced to reduce this controversy. A large contingent of typically traditional fans felt that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) would only slow down the game. Even so, VAR has stuck around and will be in use in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
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The work of video assistant referees is to minimize errors on calls made on the pitch. VAR uses data points and algorithms that help on-field referees get the calls right.
The grueling heat was always going to be a concern for the Qatari games. While FIFA may have moved the games to account for the heat in the Gulf state, temperatures are still expected to be high.
To counter the heat, stadiums are fitted with a new cooling system that is the brainchild of Qatari professor Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghan. The system cools outside air coming into the stadium through pipes. It is then expelled through grills and nozzles in the stands and on the field. The system, which requires massive amounts of power, is run by solar energy.
Qatar has achieved a massive milestone with the successful hosting of the 2022 edition of the World Cup. The tournament has not only broken long-standing traditions in applying new technology but also what seemed to be a regional bias.
This World Cup shall be remembered for the exciting matchups it brings us and the cutting-edge technology introduced.