While most soccer fans will feel that there is a big gap in the summer schedule, given that the World Cup has a winter date for the first time in history, it’s worth noting that we are approaching 100 days to the biggest show in sports kicks off in Qatar. There are many reasons that make the Qatar World Cup unique, but perhaps the most interesting is that this will be – by a distance – the most technologically advanced World Cup ever hosted.
For a start, we are going to see some changes on the pitch. Offside decisions will now be facilitated in part using AI semi-automated offside technology. The current model for VAR (video assistant referee) that you would see in the Premier League uses traditional broadcast cameras, allowing an official to make decisions after the incident in a remote room.
With the semi-automated model, all 22 players on the pitch will be constantly monitored, with the data on their positioning constantly fed back into the AI. The outcome will, hopefully, lead to faster decisions and fewer stoppages in the games.
Chipped ball will create instant decisions
As is becoming more common in sports, the football will be chipped. The World Cup will use a special chip sensor. The ball, made by Adidas and called the “AL Rihla”, is capable of sending back 500 pieces of data per second, allowing officials to instantly know whether a player is correctly judged to have been onside or offside.
Of course, none of this is guaranteed to mean that the games will be more enjoyable for fans, even if they run more smoothly. But the tech is important. We know from the World Cup odds, which see Brazil, France, England, Spain, Germany and Argentina tightly packed together as favourites, that this will be a keenly contested tournament. The officials need to get all the decisions right, and we have seen in previous World Cups that a wrong decision can devastate a team’s chances. Fans are likely to go home happier if they see their team has been fairly treated.
Beyond tracking players, which will also be done by individual health and coaching monitoring teams, the stadia in Qatar are also fitted out to be technologically advanced. We mentioned earlier that the World Cup is in winter, and this is due to the extreme heat in the Qatari summer.
Nevertheless, it can still be hot – over 35 degrees Celsius is not uncommon. As such, the newly built stadia will have state-of-the-art cooling systems that not only bring the temperature down but regulate it in such a way that is at the optimum level for players to perform at their best.
The greenest World Cup in history
It’s worth reading about all the different innovations that the Qataris have made to each purpose-built stadium, but the biggest takeaway is undoubtedly the ‘green credentials’. The venues have been created in such a manner that they use 40% less energy than a typical modern stadium. In fact, Qatar claims that it will be hosting the first carbon-neutral World Cup. Everything from green electric buses to LED lighting will bring down the energy usage.
It has been noted that it will be expensive for anyone making the trip to Qatar this November and December. Despite its vast wealth, it is a small country, one that had to scramble to build the hospitality and infrastructure to host a World Cup. Hotel rooms and flights aren’t cheap right now, but the hosts have pulled out just about every stop to make this a futuristic World Cup.
From sensory rooms for children with autism at each stadium to solar-powered wi-fi and charging stations at every World Cup location, it will be the most tech-heavy World Cup in history. Hopefully, it all combines to create a memorable World Cup on the pitch.