How technology shapes the future of football

Football can look very different in the future as new technology becomes an increasingly important part of the sport. The basic game we know will not change, but help from technology can increase both the players and improve the fan experience.

Football has come a long way since the first universal rules were drafted almost 160 years ago. And with society increasingly intertwined with technology, football has no choice but to embrace technology as well.

Think microsensors in shoes and shirts or even nanochip implants. And of course, sports fans will also be served increasingly technologically improved sports entertainment with information-enriched viewing as first-person screenings, says futurist Richard van Hooijdonk, whose detailed report highlights what the future holds for an ever-changing sport.

“What football fan does not want to experience what a football player sees, feels, hears and even feels, and – most importantly – how fast he kicks the ball?”

Technology can help shape training schedules / Marc Atkins / Getty Images

Perhaps the most obvious way that the technique will continue to be used in football through training is to improve players and take them to higher levels than ever before.

Heart rate monitors, GPS trackers, advanced surveillance and camera systems, apps for tracking official games and drones recorded by drones are already being used to gather comprehensive information.

Analysis of the information may lead to improved performance. Technology, such as adidas smart jerseys used by the German national team’s tracking distance, speed and heart rate, can help optimize training schedules, develop game strategies and even help identify irregularities, patterns or changes in player performance that may indicate an upcoming injury.

Being able to predict certain injuries before they occur can be a big step forward.

In terms of recovery, experts in Germany have developed RoboGym, a robotic weightlifting device that helps athletes improve performance and shorten recovery time after an injury. It is gentle on the joints, preserves muscle strength and also helps prevent injuries. Training exercises can even be adapted to individual players, stored in a cloud and accessed on any machine.

Certain types of injuries can be predicted and prevented / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA / Getty Images

Artificial intelligence can be used can be used to detect important marginal performance gains by keeping a player in top condition or predicting when an injury may occur.

For example, more than 50 clubs around the world already use the Zone7 artificial intelligence program, which enters data from medical profiles, fitness assessments and wearables to determine which players are at risk of injury.

The system provides green, yellow and red indicators for a player’s daily risk level, giving coaches insight into whether it is necessary to lower training intensity.

An estimated one million training sessions have already been recorded with Zone7, where the system achieves 95% accuracy and leads to a 75% reduction in injuries.

Player health has become a renewed focus after Christian Eriksen’s collapse at Euro 2020 / Hannah McKay – Pool / Getty Images

Player health monitoring is more important than ever after the worrying scenes of Christian Eriksen’s collapse and resuscitation at Euro 2020, while Iker Casillas had had a heart attack during training in 2019 and immediately tried to gain a better understanding of his health.

IDOVEN is a company that has created technology based on artificial intelligence that consists of a monitoring kit that continuously keeps track of an athlete’s heart during training and rest, in order to identify potential heart problems and prevent them.

It is believed that artificial intelligence can automate the diagnosis of cardiac arrhythmias, which saves time and therefore lives through remote diagnosis and early detection.

Development of reference technology takes video reviews to another level / DAVID RAMOS / Getty Images

When it comes to improving the game itself, goal line technology is now a well-established part of modern elite football, with cameras as crucial in determining whether the ball has crossed the goal line and should be considered a goal or not.

But where the scope of technology can continue is the use of robot assistant referees, which FIFA could have implemented at the next World Cup 2022. In fact, robot assistant referees have already been tested at the latest FIFA Club World Cup.

A system that is being considered is Tracab developed in Sweden, using AI-driven ball tracking in combination with limb tracking and skeleton modeling. Chyron-Hego, the company behind Tracab, claims that it can “determine the exact moment of a critical ball pass and the exact location of the players involved and their limbs in relation to the goal line”.

It is automatic and can send an offside alert, which means that a video assistant can review all such events much faster.

Viewing experiences go far beyond fans in arenas / Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

Technology can change the way football engages with fans, with virtual reality and holograms that can be a huge change in the fan experience. For example, a VR headset can place you anywhere in the world, even allowing fans to mimic the experience of watching a game in a stadium next to a friend, who may well be on the other side of the world.

The development of technology can even enable live hologram broadcasts, allowing fans in an empty stadium to see a realistic projection of a game as if it were being played there. Japan’s bid for the 2022 World Cup even contained promises to develop such technology to make it possible.

Southampton’s new 2021/22 home kit has augmented reality features, which means that scanning it with a smartphone can make players like James Ward-Prowse appear in a fan home.

The 2018 MLS all-star game saw goalkeeper Brad Guzan equipped with a microphone and headphones, so he could communicate directly with broadcasters and be interviewed during the match. This can be further developed to increase engagement and entertainment.

Another MLS trial of the technique saw the referee at the All-Star Game 2019 have a Go-Pro camera, which gave fans the chance to live a first-person experience of the match and witnessed up close how players and officials interact with each other on the field.

click here for the fascinating full article on “Future football is about high-tech innovation” by futurist Richard van Hooijdonk and his team.

Richard van Hooijdonk is a trend watcher, futurist, international speaker and World Economic Forum panelist. Together with his international team, he investigates how technology affects our way of working and living. Van Hooijdonk is a regular guest on radio and television programs, and his inspirational sessions have been attended by more than 550,000 people around the world. He has more than 1,500 publications to his name, including articles, white papers and e-books

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