During this World Cup we have seen a virtual replay of every goal showing the ball crossing the line. This got me thinking, is technology ruining football or is it in fact enhancing the fans experience?
Goal line technology was installed in to all 20 of the Premier League stadiums in the summer of 2013, after the decision was made to finally put to rest the age-old argument of ‘was the ball fully over the line?’. After holding discussions with Hawk-Eye, GoalRef and two more recently licensed companies, Cairos and GoalControl, the Premier League arrived at the decision to use Hawk-Eye as its goal line technology provider for the 2013-14 season.
The concept of Hawk-Eye was born in 1999 as the brainchild of Professor Paul Hawkins, who devised a way of using specially placed cameras to improve the accuracy of decision-making by match officials in sport. First used as a broadcast tool to analyse decisions in cricket, Hawk-Eye has since modernised sports broadcasting, officiating and coaching across a variety of sports.
Hawk-Eye technology is installed in more than 230 stadiums worldwide and is involved in over 100 events each year, including the Cricket World Cup, the Olympic Games, and all four tennis grand slams.
The English Premier League has always seemed to be an advocate of the technology, but FIFA not so much; so it came as a great surprise when FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced in June 2012 that the tech would be used at the 2013 Confederations Cup and 2014 World Cup. This decision had to be made after England got knocked out of the World Cup by Germany in 2010 after Frank Lampard’s shot went over the line by 4 yards but was not seen by any of the 4 officials.
Debate is everything, without debate what do you have to talk about at the pub after the game? What will Gary and the team talk about on MOTD? The 3rd umpire’s decision in cricket takes 2/3 minutes, if we were to introduce this practise into football we would have 7 or 8 breaks during a 90 minute game. What will the fan at home see during these breaks? Adverts! Another source of revenue for the fat cats at the top.
However technology can be used to enhance the fans experience as I have recently found out for myself. On 12th June myself and Jeff went over to Dublin for client meetings, this was also the first day of the World Cup. Luckily we happened to catch the first 10 minutes of the Brazil/Croatia game in Dublin’s Airport bar. When we left the bar I managed to catch the rest of the first half using the ITV Player app on my iPhone. After the 35 minute flight (with no 3G signal) I then watched the last 25/30 minutes once we landed. Without technology I would have missed this game full stop, this would not have even been possible at the World Cup in 2010, which shows how fast technology is evolving around us.
But are football clubs embracing technology to engage with fans, or are they just too scared to realise that the physical and digital worlds are merging? Well from meetings we have had with various Premier League, Championship and League One clubs it is actually the former. Clubs up and down the country are to work with Matmi to help increase engagement in club shops, in and around the stadiums and to increase ticket sales. The next generation of football fans (aged 3-8) are currently attending football matches with their families and not really caring what the result of the game is. They are much more interested in meeting the club mascot or engaging with activities in and around the stadium. I for one am really excited to see how people will engage in the coming years.
By Adam Britton, Digital Lead
If you’re interested in increasing engagement in your football club then get in touch on 01625 560771 or email firstname.lastname@example.org