Soccer, and especially World Cup, is a multibillion-dollar industry followed by billions of people around the world, so it’s not surprising at all that it isn’t immune to the tech sector’s favorite buzzword – “Digital Transformation.” Indeed, technology has played a critical role for broadcasters, organizers and spectators at previous iterations of the tournament and Russia 2018 is no exception. But what will be different is the impact of tech on the pitch itself. The last World Cup in Brazil saw the debut of goal line technology – the first-time referees had ever received any artificial help in making decisions. This year will see the advent of video assisted referees (VAR), a development which is almost certain to make headlines this summer. But it’s not the only technological development taking place on and off the field…
VAR (Video Assistant Referees)
Few recent changes to football have been as divisive as VAR. The calls for video referees in soccer have been long-running, with advocates point the success of similar systems in rugby, tennis, the NFL and even cricket. The idea is simple – referees can refer “game changing situations” such as goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identity to a video referee who can help. VAR has been tested in several competitions, including the FA Cup, but it has received a mixed reaction with many either calling for VAR to be overhauled or even scrapped altogether.
But that hasn’t deterred FIFA from using VAR at all 64 matches. A dedicated video assistant referee team comprising a lead VAR and three assistant VARs will be located at the Video Operation Room (VOR) in the International Broadcast Centre Moscow. VARs can speak to the referee using a fibre-based radio system, while 33 broadcast camera feeds and two dedicated offside cameras are directly transmitted to the VOR using the same network. Eight of these feeds are super-slow motion and four are ultra-slow motion. At knockout games, there will be two additional ultra-slow-motion cameras. The idea is that each VAR looks at a different camera feed, informing referees of any mistakes or missed incidents, or when the referee asks for assistance… Folow up the article on Hands-On