Technology made Roads to Russia

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By Kamal Baruah

American Football is America’s war game. However Indians go crazy with Cricket. Meanwhile there is one exception, soccer unites Europe. European fan watch UEFA champions league on every Tuesday and Wednesday. Real Madrid (13 times winner), Milan (7), Bayem Munich (5), Liverpool (5), Barcelona (5) are most successful continental clubs. Soccer is a truly an international game and is the most popular sport in the world. FIFA the sport’s governing body oversees soccer in 211 member countries. There are more than 15 international tournaments for men and women, including the FIFA World Cup. Every sport embraces the use of technology in modern age. But FIFA opposed the cutting-edge technology that could help referees from making the wrong calls. Then FIFA President Sepp Blatter whose term lasted 17 years until he resigned in 2015 had conservative thoughts of rely on human beings. “Players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes and yes, sometimes referees make mistakes. But football is passion, football is emotion. Football has a human touch.”Diego Maradona’s hand of God was the most infamous goal in the history of World Cup Quarterfinals 1986 against England 2-1 that proved cheating isn’t always immoral. The game must be played with impartial referees and no gambling. While watching soccer we saw referees making the wrong call and cowardly players pretend to stumble and weep. England fan went emotional but entire Argentina praised the most blatant act of cheating ever caught on video.Had this technology been in place years ago, soccer history might have had a different outcome. Remember 2010 World Cup, when England’s Frank Lampard had a goal disallowed because the referees on the field missed the ball crossing the line? Besides tackles, collision, kicking and ridiculous fouls there were infamous moments such as the spitting incident of Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler at 1990 WC, the Schumacher tackle against Michelle Platini 1982 WC, Leanardo’s tackle against Tab Ramos at 1994 WC, De Jong’s Spinning back kick against Holland 2010 WC final and the Zidane headbutt against Marcos Materazzi in 2006 WC. Enough is enough, FIFA’s feckless attitude; the use of technology must be embraced into the modern age.Soon after Blatter step down over a corruption scandal, new era Goal-line technology (GLT) and Video Assistant Referee (VAR) have come into the effect. GLT had been used for the first time during the 2014 World Cup Brazil, when France became the first team to benefit from the system. Now VAR is in Russia this time for reviewing for four major game-changing situations such as Goal/no-goal decisions, Penalty/no penalty decisions, Direct red cards (not second yellow cards) and Mistaken identity. Hope scandals are over and will provide maximum benefit and minimum interference to improve the sport. But the final call is always on the referees. There will be screaming around at stadium, but won’t be any criticise on wrong call anymore. Russia WC 2018 will provide technology seamlessly to catch those defaulters. There are VAR, Crescent Comms (audio), Hawk-Eye innovations (video), GLT. VAR has a very complex task when using video technology in a match. The VAR team supports the referee from a centralised Video Operation Room (VOR), located in the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Moscow. All relevant camera feeds from the stadiums are provided to the VOR through a fibre optic network. The referee on the field at each stadium talks to the VAR team via a sophisticated fibre-linked radio system. The field is set now. Ahead of the world cup, Roads to Russia campaign hits enthusiasts Russian. The matches are planned in 11 cities and 12 stadiums. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has lavished praise on Russian President Putin for ability to finish construction of stadiums on time. Germany is currently the No. one FIFA Ranking followed by Brazil, Belgium, Portugal, Argentina, Switzerland, France, Poland, Chile (recently eliminated) and Spain. There are 3 from CONCACAF North America (Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama), 5 from CONMEBOL South America (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru), , 5 from CAF Africa (Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco), 5 from AFC Asia (Iran, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia) and 14 from Europe (Russia Rank 70 (host), Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark). Brazil has won 5 times followed by Germany (4), Italy (4), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), France (1) and Spain (1) since 1930. Though India (rank 97) will not figure in the FIFA WC, the demand for tickets by Indian fans is very high. Being billion people in the world, we failed to participate among 32 qualified teams. India only managed to qualify for 1950 WC Brazil (when Burma pull-out) but withdrew before the tournament because they were not allowed to play without footwear. However India played in Olympics in 1948, 1952, 1956 and 1960. Afterwards she did not qualify. Naga footballer from Assam Talimeren Ao was the captain of India in 1948 Olympics. India’s captain Sunil Chhetri played 101 international match scoring 62 goals that he is only behind Ronaldo (81 goals) and Messi (64 goals) in terms of International goals. He recently appealed to fans of European clubs on Twitter to support for the Blue Tigers. India has a realistic chance of qualifying for 2026 FIFA WC where 46 teams will be played with 8 slots from AFC. Qatar will be the first Arab state to host 2022 FIFA WC. Morocco’s bid to host 2026 FIFA will be known official in this world cup.  Should India plan for 2030?Major professional league NFL (American Football), NBA (Basketball), MLB (Baseball), ICC (Cricket), ATP (Tennis) etc. have already adopted technology long time back. Despite opposing by naysayers, technology in soccer is here to stay. It is never too late by FIFA to join the 21st century, but at least they seem to be going in the right direction. Soccer is on the verge of exploding. Robot players, sensory simulation and accelerometer will change the sport. And no one would imagine that in-game fitness wearable technology in soccer may end up being ahead of other sports. Technology may take over to monitor the heart rate and fitness data of players in real time in the future.

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