Technology has been getting on the score sheet during a remarkable summer of sport
Anyone who has ever railed at the referee for an unfair penalty decision, or wondered aloud about the eyesight of the Wimbledon line judge, may have welcomed recent developments in match technology.
At the time of writing, England was still in the grip of World Cup fever and it’s a tournament that has been notable for more than just an unusually strong performance by the Lions. The 2018 World Cup has seen the debut of VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee), the controversial video replay system that has allowed real-time footage scrutiny for the first time in football.
Some fans have welcomed the development, which can intervene when match officials have made a ‘clear and obvious error’ regarding goals, penalties, red cards or mistaken identity. Referees can also take a look at the video footage right there on the pitch if they’re not sure what they’ve seen.
Anyone who remembers Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ debacle against England in the 1986 World Cup would probably like to pop VAR in a time machine, but of course, decisions can go against your team too. Some fans have complained that the tech slows down the pace of the game, but VAR is still in its early days, so we’ve yet to see if it’s an own goal or a winner.
Over at Wimbledon, the Hawkeye gear has been scrutinising tennis line calls for years, but AI has taken on an extra role at this year’s tournament. Organisers have revealed that an artificial intelligence system called Watson has been cutting down on the arduous task of compiling each day’s video highlights. The tech is able to assemble what are likely to be the best bits based on the crowd’s audible reactions, saving editors the work of trawling through hours of footage.
Sounds like game, set and match to us!