WM with apps, tracking technology

A giant screen shows a VAR monitor during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group C soccer match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia November 22 at the Lusail Stadium in Lusail, north of Doha. — Agence France-Presse/Kirill Kudryavtsev

The whole world is now trembling with World Cup fever. In this age of information technology, where the whole world is under the control of technology, it is natural that there will be surprises by new technologies in the organization of the World Cup. Therefore, Qatar World Cup 2022 presents itself with eye-catching arrangements and state-of-the-art technology. Technologies have been added that the world has never seen before. Mobile apps, sensors and technology have been integrated to quickly and accurately track players’ athletic and personal performance, mental health and key decisions. The players are under a lot of mental stress from the excitement of the game. Therefore, the Calm app was added for the mental health services of the players and the football community. These apps will also be active during next year’s Women’s World Cup and Nations Cup. Footballers, coaches and coaches who participate in both men’s and women’s world cups can use this app for free.

Added “FIFA Players App” to know the performance as soon as possible after the game, jointly developed by FIFA and FIFAPro. Each player has access to their personal performance data after each game. The apps feature a combined repository of amazing analysis, data and tracking data from highly qualified FIFA coaches on match and player performance. Traffic cameras around the stadium also collect data from players on the pitch. The speed and distance covered by a footballer, the number of actions in excess of 25 km/h, the highest speed positional hits, etc. are instantly displayed to players and spectators on a map and in a visual format. These findings are analyzed and fed into algorithms and models. This section of the app is called “Football Data Metrics”.

The offside discussion never ends in this mass sport. Apart from the referee, offside can now also be easily detected by the video assistant referee or VAR. However, many questions are raised about its efficiency. A new “semi-automatic offside” technology will be used at the World Cup in Qatar to ensure accuracy. With the help of Advanced VAR, offside decisions can be made in as little as 25 seconds, which previously took 70 seconds. To implement the technology, a sensor is used in the center of the ball, which sends data 500 times per second and can determine the perfect push-off point. To monitor the stadium, 1,200 synchronized multi-tracking cameras are installed on the stadium roof. Next to the ball, the cameras monitor 29 points on the players’ bodies and send data about their exact position 50 times per second. If a player is offside, the sensor first signals the VAR cabin. The system was tried out at last year’s Arab Cup and Club World Cup.

The use of video assistant referees was first observed during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. It helps the referee on the field to make correct decisions through video replays of the game. In this case, a special team analyzes video recordings in an off-field studio. This type of method has long been used in the game of cricket. Basically, this system serves to make the various decisions of the referee more accurate. For example, whether a goal was scored and whether any rules were broken when scoring a goal; penalty and red card decisions; etc. If the main referee on the field has doubts about a decision, he can ask the VAR for a review via the headset. The use of this technology brings more transparency to game results and ratings.

Brazil used goal-line technology in each of its 12 stadiums for the first time at the 2014 World Cup. It should be noted that a clear goal by England team player Frank Lampard against Germany at South Africa 2010 caused a great deal of controversy. In light of the Lampard incident, FIFA decided to use goal-line technology. This year’s World Cup also has goal-line technology, but it’s more modern and consists of 14 cameras. Through them, fans can see 3D vision from different angles. This technology was first introduced at the 2014 World Cup. Incidentally, Hawk-Eye is a British camera-based system and the first company to receive a FIFA license.

This camera is widely recognized as the most accurate, reliable and experienced provider of goal-line technology. Paul Hawkins, the inventor of ball tracking devices for cricket, snooker and tennis, combined this camera with the idea of ​​ball tracking in football. And “Goal-Ref” is a Danish-German technology that uses a magnetic sensor attached to the goalpost to determine the trajectory of the contested ball and display a perfect image. Through the mobile apps, there is the “Haya Card” which offers ticket holders free use of public transport on match days and various other benefits.

Qatar has installed special temperature control technology and also built seven air-conditioned stadiums. However, one stadium was built completely differently and called the “Nine Seven Four”. The number is basically Qatar’s international code, and the stadium consists of 974 containers. Around 40,000 spectators can sit together in this stadium and watch the game. This compound was built to pay tribute to Qatar’s history, trade and all Qatari traditions. This special stadium, which is to be demolished after the World Cup, is being built in the eastern coastal town of Ras-Abu Aboud, about 10 kilometers from the capital Doha. The stadium does not need an air cooler as it is on the seashore and cold air is supplied through the duct.

To ensure the security of the game, the whole country is monitored by 15,000 cameras. The Aspire Command Control Center has over a million travelers under surveillance. The technology is revolutionizing the sport of live tracking performance, captivating billions of viewers worldwide outside of the stadium. With this in mind, goal-line technology has been used in Brazil in 2014, VAR in Russia in 2018 and now in Qatar. The “semi-automatic” offside and app technology takes less time than before to make the right decisions, making the game more perfect, transparent, vivid and dynamic.

dr M. Mesbahuddin Sarker is Professor and Director of the Institute of Information Technology at Jahangirnagar University.


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