Does Technology Make the FIFA World Cup Better or Worse?

The recent introduction of technology into sports has changed a lot of what we’re used to, but what does it mean for the average fan? By looking at some of the most interesting uses of tech in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we can get an idea of what this means for all of us.

Different Ways of Seeing the Games

In the past, football fans were only focussed on finding out how to watch the games in any way possible, but things have changed drastically. The variety of ways we have to watch the tournament has certainly added to the convenience of this World Cup.

While many fans still prefer to watch live on a mainstream channel, more people are turning to alternatives such as streaming. England’s opening game against Iran gives a good example of how this works, as an average of just under eight million viewers watched it live but the 6-2 victory has also been streamed eight million times on the iPlayer and the BBC website.

When considering sports streaming tastes in the UK, football is by far the most popular discipline, followed by rugby, cricket and golf among others. The online search for streams is largely driven by supporters of the country’s biggest teams looking to watch the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool games. However, the World Cup is sure to see interest focussed on how to stream the action from Qatar.

Another option comes from the many YouTube videos coming out of the tournament, as fans from all over the planet share videos of the atmosphere, the food, the accommodation and everything else. Overall, this is arguably the sporting event that has offered us the biggest variety when it comes to enjoying the action.

The Effect of the Decision-Making Tech

If there’s one area of new tech that has divided football fans, it’s that which is used to make the big decisions. While most supporters just want the right call to be made each time, the length of time taken to reach decisions and the inexplicable nature of some of them has led to many fans claiming that it ruins the spectacle.

If we look at the most controversial example, we can see that the offside rule is enforced using a variety of elements. Firstly, the match ball contains sensors that mean its position and movement can be tracked at all times. A network of Hawk-Eye cameras tracks the ball and all the players, meaning that the potential for an offside position is always known.

That’s not all, as artificial intelligence is then used to advise if there are any decisions to be made, which are taken manually by officials using 3D renderings. All of this means that we’re seeing more accurate decisions than ever before, but perhaps fans need to get used to the process before we can say that it contributes to the spectacle or at least doesn’t take away anything from it.

The pieces of sports technology we’ve looked at are here to stay. While the different ways of watching games have been a big hit, the decision-making tech may take longer to settle in and be fully accepted by supporters.