Why technology might suck the life out of the World Cup

Back view of two men sitting on sofa watching football match on LG NanoCell 80 Series TV.

LG

Heavenly powers are exerting themselves in tortuous directions this year.

No, I’m not talking about Mercury in retrograde.

I’m not talking about the full moon making you howl.

also: Why did you choose YouTube TV over other live TV services

I’m talking about the World Cup, which takes place in the winter, starting from November 20th.

The one who is already crowned world champion

world Cup of football. world Cup of football. The World Cup that interests more people in the world than any other sporting event. A World Cup that, unlike American sports, actually crowns a world champion.

The World Cup always takes place in the summer, when the national seasons are over and the players have had time to rest.

It’s big bullshit this time around, with money inscribed at its core. Qatar was chosen as the host country because I am sure you can get there from here.

also: Top 5 sports streaming services

It’s not as if FIFA, the sport’s governing body, often has an impeccable reputation. It appears, for example, to disregard some of the host nation’s most controversial laws.

Why, a Qatari ambassador to the World Cup recently said that homosexuality – which is illegal in Qatar – represents “brain damage”.

Journalists from Denmark and the United States have already been harassed for what appear to be mundane activities, such as taking a picture in a public place.

But everyone is still watching. Well, most people.

However, for many, the World Cup is their only regular means of contact with football. (Should I still call it soccer?)

They enter into the month-long event. They pick the countries and players they adore, even if their countries don’t qualify. (So ​​sorry, Italy. You play boring football.)

Isn’t VAR-y good?

However, this will be the World Cup where technology is likely to become (more) an annoying, exasperating, and ultimately dominant specter. All the same, as often appears with technology, it is embellished with good intentions.

It’s not just about evaluating, teaching, dictating, and even selecting players, according to some deeply researched data programs. It is about that some of the most important decisions will be in the hands of technology. Or rather, the human interpretation of what technology serves.

also: The AI ​​experience will completely change your experience of sporting events

Punishment or no punishment? Target or no target? Or, as devoted football fans often refer to it, life or death.

An essential technological innovation that will become a subject of many people’s love or hate is called VAR. Video assistant referee. It made its World Cup debut in 2018, when the event was held in Russia.

Now, though, the presence of VAR in club football has become pervasive and pervasive and, for many, an onslaught.

If you’re not familiar with the technology, it sends game images to a so-called video assistant referee, sitting in a closed room with friends, but no apparent beer.

also: Top 5 fantasy football apps

The VAR referee looks to see if there is something dangerous the referee may have missed on the pitch. The technology also uses smart lines to analyze if a player is offside.

At any moment, the VAR referee can ask the field referee to stop the match, run to a screen near the touchline, and observe a particular play in extremely slow motion from several different angles.

Here’s the problem. When you look at something in super slow motion—especially a human being kicking another—it can seem far more dramatic and extreme than what happened in real life, when a player is vaguely touched, yet rolls around in performative agony.

Desperate Dictations of Data

We are used to something vaguely similar in American sports. All (Important) now allows coaches to challenge calls made on the field by referring to video evidence.

The problem with VAR technology – and many in business would say it’s all data – is the pretense of objectivity, though.

Technology actively influences referee behavior. If the video referee asks the referee on the field to review a play, the last referee knows he is expected to overturn his decision.

Hey, look at the data. Don’t you think there might be a little handball in there?

However, what is never conveyed is the actual conversation with the referee – unlike sports such as cricket and rugby. Instead, the referee stares at the screen and gives his judgment with hand signals, which can incite many fans to make hand signals of their own.

Did he really stand on his feet? Or was someone acting here?

TV viewers were later able to see what the video referees saw. However, they are outraged by some ridiculous interpretations of objective evidence.

also: Roku’s Sports section puts games and schedules right on your home screen

Oh, and about those offside lines. FIFA announced that it would use semi-automated stealth technology “to help them.” [referees] Make faster, more accurate, and repeatable stealth decisions on the biggest stage ever.”

Justice by Android (kinda). We must all prepare for it.

It’s a good thing. or is it?

I’m being so negative, I know. I know I care a lot about football. I also know that VAR allows actual injustices – against my team, of course – to often be reversed.

Here is another positive technology. The semi-automatic offside technology will have a sensor in the middle of the ball, to give a more accurate idea of ​​when the ball has been kicked when adjudged offside. (If you’re not aware or don’t care, the offside rule is about when to kick the ball. If the attacking player has only one opposing player in front of him at that moment, the attacking player is offside.)

VAR is that rare attempt at getting technology to do it justice. Or a little more justice. It’s just that it doesn’t always work that way and many trainers are now decrying how it’s used.

also: What AI developers need to know about AI ethics

Why, famous Italian coach Antonio Conte recently claimed he “didn’t see the sincerity” in the VAR decision against his team. Famed German coach Jurgen Klopp once accused the video referee of “hiding behind” his counterpart on the pitch.

I know I shouldn’t be afraid. I am already familiar with VAR technology. I know I should be thankful that technology is so smart.

But there is repression at its core.

Many players will not even be able to celebrate properly when they score, as they will still wait for the VAR to say that the goal must stand. Fans will scream, if only because their screams are probably in vain as technology delivers na-na-nana-na.

Some human spontaneity is lost in favor of the hoped-for precision. (Does this remind you of work?)

Somehow, I’ve always preferred to hate referees than to curse a machine.

But then I stop and think about some more. I still hate the ref that runs the machine. And there is a bonus. I can also hate the referee staring at the screen and making the wrong decision.

And in any case, pent-up feelings will certainly be the token of the World Cup, right?