The 2018 World Cup in Russia will feature a vast array of technological innovations both on and off the field of play.
The new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system is one such example of technology in action within football, but there are plenty of other areas it will impact during the tournament.
Read on as we look at the top three ways technology will be used at the 2018 World Cup.
Video assistant referee (VAR) technology
VAR will be used at the World Cup after the game’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board (IFAB), unanimously approved the use of the technology in matches on a permanent basis.
The system has been used with varying degrees of success in numerous countries last season and it will be interesting to see it in operation during a major tournament.
VAR operates on a three-step process of incident, review/advice, decision, and across the four areas of football deemed ‘game changing’ by FIFA.
The system is only to be used ‘to correct clear errors and for missed serious incidents’ in those ‘match-changing’ situations. The incidents that can be reviewed are in relation to validity of goals, penalties, direct red cards or mistaken identity for cautions or dismissals.
VARs and other match officials can recommend reviews, but the only person who can initiate one is the referee, who will then have the final say on whether their original decision should stand or be changed.
They have the option to review footage themselves on a pitch-side monitor before making a final decision.
Over 190 networks around the globe will have live coverage of the tournament and for the first time in history the World Cup will have extensive online streaming on rights holder websites and mobile apps.
FIFA has ensured that most of these are terrestrial (free-to-air) channels like for example in the UK, where ITV and BBC will share the World Cup coverage.
The event will be a huge attraction for advertisers on commercial broadcasting platforms, with messages such as ‘here at Party Casino’ and many others expected to be widely viewed by consumers.
Although access to most online coverage is free, users will require an IP address for the country’s content they are trying to access.
If you are on holiday in Spain and want English coverage, just buy a VPN (cost around $5) to get a UK IP address and you will be able to access both BBC and ITV online platforms.
Similar services are available with across the globe, ensuring that Russia 2018 will be one of the most watched tournaments in history.
Sports science has become an integral part of football and this World Cup will be supported by the practice in a wide range of ways.
Tournament outsiders Australia are a great example of sports science in action, with the team using the Apple Watch to help maximise their performance.
Australia visited 22 different countries and travelled more than 250,000 kilometres during qualification, so being able to use technology to manage travel fatigue has become a crucial part how the players are monitored.
Dr Craig Duncan – one of Australia’s leading sports scientists – is aiming to take that a step further during the World Cup.
“We’re about to use a more cutting-edge technology where pretty much 24/7 we can monitor the players seamlessly,” Duncan told CNN Sport.
“Just from them wearing a wearable and keeping track of what’s going on, so data flying up to the cloud and us seeing it.
“You’ve got to get quite resourceful when you’ve got so much distance between your players.”
Data analysts have become a crucial component in the modern game and their use could be the difference between winning and losing in Russia.