Played by more than 240 million people worldwide, football is an enormously popular sport! Originating in 19th century England, it spread like wildfire across the world. Rules for the game were established in those early days where use of hands was banned. These days, innovations like Video Assistant Referee (VAR), esports and special cognitive training for the players is progressing the sport even further.
Advanced Technology on the Pitch
We can’t deny, sometimes referees just make the wrong call! Maybe they weren’t paying attention, maybe they were biased. This is where VAR steps in to help reduce critical errors and improve refereeing accuracy. In the 2018 Men’s World Cup, the accuracy rate of refereeing decisions was 95.60% without VAR, but went up to 99.35% when VAR was used – which is quite a significant difference. Beyond that, we also have the introduction of AI to football, which allows coaches to access real-time feedback on player movement, positioning and efficiency. The impact of AI on the sport will be far-reaching, as it is even starting to affect talent recruitment for teams. By analysing game footage and data, the objective skills of each player can be assessed by the algorithms.
Fan Engagement and Technology
Some say that without fans, football is nothing. Passionate, loyal supporters in the stands and watching on screens provide revenue as well as excitement to the sport. Some teams are using AI to further engage their fans by providing real-time match facts specifically tailored to each fan’s preference. Streaming services have become so good that live football nights at bars make viewers not miss a beat.
This technology not only applies to football, as it is also used in other sports, the online casino industry, the music industry, and plenty more. With sports it’s easy to understand how, but you may be wondering how this applies to the igaming and music industries. Nowadays, there are live casinos with live dealers that make the experience just as similar as being in a land-based casino and platforms like Spotify use AI technology to tailor music suggestions to the listeners preferences. As technology continues to evolve, mobile streaming, augmented reality and personalised content will become even more popular. The days of being stuck to the television screen are fading, and football fans can get even more immersed in the game than ever before.
The impact of wearable technology
Most average people walking down the street these days are wearing ‘wearable technology’, some without even realising it! It has had (and will continue to have) a significant impact in the sports world – improving sports performance through real-time data analysis and tracking. Being able to measure and monitor athletic performance, prevent injuries, advise on rehabilitation and overall optimise performance benefits everyone from athletes to coaches, managers and researchers. Beyond that, even the footballs have GPS trackers in them too! They collect information about player acceleration, deceleration, direction changes and speed, which allows for tracking of fitness levels and productivity. Things have certainly changed drastically from the 90’s where all the players were drinking, smoking and eating fish and chips after every game – nowadays the players performance is objectively monitored to an almost intrusive level.
Esports and the Digital Arena
FIFA rocked the sport and gaming world in 1993 by allowing football fans to play as their favourite real-life players in their own homes. Beyond that, the internet age has created the phenomenon of online eSports, a rapidly growing industry with an expected revenue of over USD $1.72 billion in 2023 rising to a staggering USD 6.75 billion by 2030. Football clubs are among those getting involved with eSports, and many high-profile European teams have started to invest in and even establish their own eSports teams. Athletes themselves also see the scene as an opportunity either when they retire or during their careers – becoming owners or investors of esports organisations worldwide.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility
On a completely different tangent, there’s also a lot of effort being put into creating more environmentally-friendly football stadiums. Stadiums significantly impact the surrounding environment during their full life cycle – starting with their construction, through their use, and as they age. There are also significant human-rights issues surrounding stadium construction in countries such as Qatar. Instead, international sports organisations are now focusing on ‘green’ stadiums, which are built to limit pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as positively impacting the local community. Waste management through composting, recycling, and sorting initiatives, energy efficiency using LED and solar energy and smarter water conservation are a few of the important measures that stadiums have put into place.
There are lots of exciting innovations and trends happening in the world of football, and these new innovations will definitely shape the future of the game in some way or another. Despite all these changes, the enduring spirit of the fans and players and universal appeal of football will always live on.