Technology in Football

The video assistant referee (VAR) technology has brought positive changes in football. It promotes fairness by allowing referees to check serious fouls and events before making critical decisions, such as sending out a player or awarding a penalty. In the past, innocent players wrongly received a red card because the referee did not clearly see a tackle. Similar problems occur when a referee awards an unfair penalty. The VAR technology minimizes such errors by allowing match officials to review critical incidences in a game.

Furthermore, the VAR technology promotes fairness by subjecting all teams to the same offside rule. Before VAR, the linesmen solely made offside decisions. In some cases, the view is unclear, causing the linesmen to permit an offside player to score a goal or deny a goal-scoring opportunity to an onside player. The introduction of VAR in football means that no team receives an unfair advantage from an offside decision because the technology uses the same lines to check all goals. Football fans and commentators have strongly criticized the thin lines used to determine whether a player is offside or onside. Following the criticism, stakeholders are improving the technology to provide an advantage to the attacking player.

The VAR critics also argue it sucks the emotion out of football. The referees always accepted a goal whenever a player scored unless the linesman had raised the flag. Immediately the ball hits the net, the fans, players, and coaching staff are in a frenzy celebrating a goal. However, VAR forces fans and players to celebrate moderately and hold back emotions because the technology can overturn a goal for an offside or foul leading to the goal.

The goal-line technology fosters equity in football. The technology provides real-time feed to the center referee, indicating whether a ball has closed the goal line or not. It eliminates errors arising when the linesman or center referee cannot tell the ball’s position. For example, during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the referee did not grant Frank Lampard’s goal against Germany despite the ball closing the line. The goal-line technology prevents situations where human error denies teams legitimate goals.

Social media technology promotes bullying in football. Nowadays, fans insult and racially abuse football players following an underwhelming performance or a missed opportunity such as a saved penalty. Players, especially Black ones, receive racist comments and monkey or banana emoji on their social media platforms. Online bullying and racist insults undermine player’s morale and performance in the next game. To make the situation, even when a player performs exceptionally, the opposing fans are likely to release their frustrations by racially abusing the player on social media. 

Technology helps keep players healthy and injury-free. Medical equipment, including sensors and breathing apparatus, records a player’s heart rate, movement, and breathing, among other physical health data. The recorded data helps team doctors understand each player’s health and areas requiring improvement. Football players wear tracking vests in training and matches, allowing data scientists and trainers to monitor performance indicators, including pace, distance covered, and sprint distance. A below-average performance indicates a problem. Such allows the manager or coach to substitute a player and prevent a severe injury.

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