By Andreas Gkoumplias,
One of the most discussed topics, and one that has crossed the mind of people who love sports and more specifically football, is the introduction and the integration of technology into sports. A highly controversial subject, from the conception of the original idea, to be able to prevent mistakes and to be able to be as fair as possible, to its very integration into football games, it is safe to say that the introduction of technology to football has had its fair share of controversy as to whether it is a detriment or an asset to the ‘’heart and soul’’ of the very game we all love.
It all started in 2012, in the FIFA Club World Cup that would be taking place in Japan, when FIFA announced that they would be trying out the goal-line technology, which essentially uses cameras throughout the field and a magnetic field to track whether the ball has crossed the line or not, signifying so in the referee’s watch. Then, in 2016, in a friendly match between PSV (most commonly known as PSV Eindhoven) and FC Eindhoven, we had the introduction of VAR, standing for Video Assistant Referee, which allowed the referee to be able to review a controversial on-field decision with his assistants to potentially overturn it. Finally, in this year’s UEFA Champions League, there is introduced the automated offside, tracking both the ball and the player at the same time via the cameras in the stadium, providing an alert if the player receives the ball in an offside position, aiding the referees in making faster and more correct decisions.
Although those implementations are not 100% accurate, since they involve people making a decision, they certainly have helped a lot to make the games a bit fairer. However, much as the quality of the games may have been improved there are still a lot of people that seem to be of the opinion that the use of those technologies has deprived football of its suspense, slowly degrading the quality of the games and taking the fun out of the sport.
It is very difficult to be completely firm as to whether football as a sport has deteriorated or improved due to the extensive use of technology tools nowadays. On the one hand, we have to factor in that those implementations have improved the decision-making and have made the referee’s job a lot easier. In the past days, it was always the referee’s call, whether it was a penalty, a red card, a disallowed goal, and so on. If the referee or his assistants were not sure about the call they had to make there was no one to help them out. With the introduction of tools that include different angles, slow motion view, aligning lines to determine whether the attacker was offside, etc., it is safe to say that the game has become more accurate and more correct.
However, those changes throw the fun and the suspense out of the window, especially for the fans. When in the past people were worried about their team not scoring a goal, we actually find ourselves in a time where fans worry more about whether there were not made any mistakes, like an offside, a handball, or a foul, during the build-up to score a goal. Furthermore, the accuracy that is provided via technology ruins the fun of the game for most people. Seeing your team score a goal only for it to be disallowed minutes later is a completely gutting experience, and one that not many people want to have. Studies have also revealed that the usage of VAR interrupts the natural course of the game, resulting in the tempo generated being lost.
So, has football improved via the use of technology? In terms of accuracy and decision making, yes a lot. But that accuracy leads sometimes to completely ruining what is supposed to be a fun experience and a good time, especially when mistakes are made. Do fans still enjoy football? Yes, they do. However, it is clear that technology in football has a lot of cons, one of which is taking the simplicity out of football, the very thing that the sport is loved for.
- Is technology killing football?, medium.com, Available here
- Is VAR killing football’s soul or is it needed to stop injustices?, goal.com, Available here
- What is semi-automated offside technology and how will it work in the Champions League and at the World Cup?, eurosport.com, Available here