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3 World Cup innovations that are changing match results

This year’s FIFA World Cup is underway, and has already been producing results we didn’t expect to see. In this article, MPA looks at the innovative technologies affecting all 64 games in this year’s tournament.

The first world cup to use VAR

Video assistant referee (VAR) has been active in some domestic matches to good success, but Russia 2018 is the first time the system will be used in a World Cup competition. Hoping to improve on the level of assistance given to referees; VAR was first introduced with goal line technology used in the 2014 tournament. Located within the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Moscow throughout the tournament and manned by an expert group of 13 specially selected referees. The central hub for VAR will allow on field referees to take a second look at their decisions and ensure all games are played fairly in the true spirit of football.

The feed is live through to the centre, where they will receive all relevant angles of the game and any incidents from 33 cameras placed in specific locations around all 12 tournament stadiums. A selected number of the cameras will also be able to provide super-slow-motion and even ultra-slow-motion so that referees can see every detail of the game. The feed will be transmitted through a fibre optic network and on field referees will be able to talk to the centre by using a sophisticated fibre-link radio system.

The VAR team come into play during matches to support the decision-making process of the referees in situations including; goals and offenses leading to goals, penalty decisions, direct red card incidents and situations of mistaken player identity.

In order to make sure fans watching form home also see a benefit from VAR, all broadcasters will be supplied with information through the VAR information system so those at home can see why the decision was changed or held. Technology providers for the tournaments VAR usage are; Crescent Comms and Hawk-Eye Innovations.

The icon gets a tech upgrade

When you think of a football, you generally picture the classic black and white panels. First appearing in the 1970 World Cup, this ball was the first version of the Adidas Telstar. Named after the 1962 Telstar Satellite, the first communication satellite to be launched into space. The ball’s famous black and white panels was itself a football innovation; its new colour allowing the ball to be viewed easier on black and white televisions over its brown leather predecessor.

After the blame Adidas’s Jabulani ball received in 2010 for multiple goalkeeping errors and unlikely goals, ultimately changing the outcome of some games, it’s no surprise that for the 2018 World Cup this old classic has been given a 21st century upgrade. Designed with a new shape, made from new materials, the ball is more connected making a huge impact on the way a game is played.

The Adidas Telstar 18 has been equipped with a near field communication (NFC) chip. In the past Adidas have demonstrated they are capable of monitoring footballing performance through footballs with their miCoach smart ball, but that technology isn’t in the NFC chip. Instead the chip gives each ball a unique identifier, which people can connect to, to enter challenges and competitions whilst giving specific details about each ball. Rather than changing the outcome of games the chip is more of a feature of the ball. The innovative design and shape of the ball could make a difference however.

The new ball has 6 panels, compared to the originals 32 and the Jabulani’s 8. The shape of these panels is very different to other balls, with a much longer seam holding the panels together than is common. The impact on the ball is that it experiences slightly more drag as it flies through the air, so it will not travel as far when kicked down the pitch and may not feel as quick when being shot. In this sense it makes it more suited to players who like the ball at their feet rather than reactive counter attacking teams.

What you wear on your feet matters

Adidas has done it again, pushing the boundaries with various football boots that are arguably described as some of the most technological advanced footwear ever seen in the game.

Adidas X18+

These boots are specifically designed to maximise speed and acceleration for attacking minded football players. Possessing a lightweight construction including a low-cut collar, a 3D moulded heel and even a skin-tight fit to ensure the foot stays locked in, getting rid of the need for shoelaces. Material is reduced even more using a skeletal weave to construct the boot. The weave is made from an ultra -thin woven grid of optically charged yarn and a new ultra-soft mesh which offers players sensitive touch of the ball whilst not restricting foot movement.

Adidas Predator 18+

This legendary boot, worn by players like Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, has been upgraded to further become the footwear choice to all passing and shooting maestros. It now has a sockfit collar, which has been engineered by Adidas to naturally expand into the shape of the foot, all whilst still providing support for the players foot.

The boot is made from Adidas’s Primeknit material which includes their Controlskin to provide optimal grip in a variety of conditions, but also has a full-length BOOST midsole which will return energy from every step to ensure pace. These boots will enable players to make quick, reactive passes and get their bodies into the positions that allow powerful and technically perfect free kicks.