The world’s biggest sports event starts today in Russia. With the kickoff of World Cup 2018, we explore how soccer technology has evolved since Brazil hosted the event in 2014.
At the world cup four years ago, social media was abuzz with posts, we saw a lot of new equipment, big data, goal line technology and early iterations of wearable devices. At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, we’ll see even more technologies as innovation continues to shape the way we consume content, athletes train, and referees make calls.
In 2018, we live in a much more connected world: people regularly wear devices on their wrists and athletes use real-time data to make informed decisions about their training. Here are some innovations to keep an eye on at this year’s World Cup.
The World Cup 2018 will be much more data-filled, bringing teams granular training and delivering match analyses in real time. For the first time FIFA approved the use of tablets for coaches on the bench. Each of the 32 competing teams will have the option to use tablets fed real-time information about player metrics, positional data, and video footage.
Technologies like these will shape soccer long into the future. While the U.S. National Team didn’t qualify for the tournament this year, the U.S. Soccer Federation already has its eyes on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. U.S. Soccer recently signed a $1.5 billion deal with STATSports to monitor its four million registered soccer players. Those athletes, ranging from youth leagues to the national teams, will be provided APEX athlete monitoring devices, which will be worn as a vest and track distance, speed, acceleration, deceleration, load and heart rate.
Video Assisted Referees (VAR)
Video Assisted Referees (VAR) will probably be the most exciting new technology at this year’s World Cup. This is the first time video replays will be used to help referees at the World Cup. The VAR technology consists of a team of assistant officials, located in a remote video room, who will use technology to help head officials make calls.
Goal-line technology, first used at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, provides a means of instantly determining whether the entire ball crossed the goal line. Match officials wear smartwatches and receive a signal on their wrist within one second if a goal is scored.
This year, we’ll see bigger equipment upgrades than in 2014 with the Adidas Telstar 18 game ball featuring an embedded NFC chip that enables the ball to communicate with mobile devices to unlock new fan experiences, including exclusive content, and access to challenges that users can enter.