Innovations are sweeping through the football industry in a manner never seen before. Like many new things however, enthusiasm is always followed by initial scepticism. This is especially true for a sport industry, which has historically shown strong resistance to technological disruption, and is still today largely comprised of traditional jobs and enterprises that are reluctant to adapt.
Nonetheless, Sports industry makes up 1% of the world GDP, innovating is increasingly becoming a desperate need more than a mere want. It is natural to ask where sports are heading, what new business opportunities will emerge from the disruption and how this industry will still be fresh and engaging to customers. Football has come a long way since its early days, just like everything else. And given the technologically advanced world we live in, it's poised to feature even more improvements in future.
These are the most notable football innovations in the last 30 years:
Video Assistant Referee (VAR)
One of the game's newest innovations has come in the form of the Video Assistant Referee, or VAR. The technology, which enables match officials to make decisions as it relates to goals, penalties and various infringements. VAR is used in three main incidents (plus one administrative):
The role of the VAR is to assist the referee to determine whether there was an infringement that means a goal should not be awarded. As the ball has crossed the line, play is interrupted so there is no direct impact on the game
The role of the VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
Direct red card incidents
The role of the VAR is to ensure that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with sending off or not sending off a player.
4. Mistaken Identity
The referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned. The VAR will inform the referee so that the correct player can be disciplined.
Vanishing spray was made popular during the last World Cup, when it was used by the referee in the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. It's basically foam sprayed out of a can to provide a temporary marker for dead-ball situations and the like. Said spray has been around since 2000, when it was developed by Brazilian inventor Heine Allemagne under the name 'Spuni'. It was introduced to the Brazilian Championship a year later after being unanimously approved by referees and has been used in competitions there ever since.
Debating over whole balls crossing (or not crossing) the line has become a thing of the past since the introduction of goal-line technology. Usage of the tech was voted for unanimously by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in July of 2012 and put into the laws of the game, permitting the use, but not making it a requirement. It took a few years for different leagues to implement goal-line tech, but it's used all around now and has done well to eliminate one of football's biggest problems.
Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS)
Electronic performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS), which include camera-based and wearable technologies, are used to control and improve player and team performance. EPTS primarily track player (and ball) positions but can also be used in combination with micro-electromechanical devices (accelerometers, gyroscopes, etc.) and heart-rate monitors as well as other devices to measure load or physiological parameters.