As a sport, soccer is still the most popular globally and one that picks up new fans with each passing year. While much of this comes down to the on-field action, top leagues to follow and superstar players to cheer on, the constant evolution of the game is also a factor. This is especially true when you look at how soccer has used the latest technologies over time to improve.
Of course, it is not only soccer which has experienced huge technological advances lately. Sports in general around the world have begun to incorporate next-gen tech into how they are played. Other industries around the world connected to sports have also begun to witness a digital transformation. As this PointsBet sportsbook and promo review shows, the sports betting sector has been changed in a positive way by tech advances.
The same can be said for companies who use the latest advanced technology and materials to produce sporting equipment. While improving your play with the latest golf shoes, soccer cleats or running spikes might not be a foregone conclusion, next-gen tech in sports equipment can give you a boost. When it comes to soccer as a sport though, there can be no doubt how much tech has come into play recently.
But which are the biggest tech developments to affect it in particular?
Player performance tracking
An early example of the huge impact that cutting-edge tech has had in soccer is player performance tracking technology. Pretty much all players in major soccer leagues globally now wear fitness trackers when training or playing. These trackers then provide feedback to dedicated software which collates the data on each player for coaches to make actionable insights from.
Pro-Zone is perhaps the best-known example of player performance analysis software in soccer and has been used by a number of clubs worldwide. The beauty with this sort of tech is that it takes the guesswork out of player performance evaluation for managers and shows clearly any areas that need to be focused on by individuals.
Tech used to cover games
Modern coverage of top-flight soccer games provides slick, polished shows that are full of the latest technology. This is in stark contrast to coverage from the past which was not tech-heavy and mainly involved people discussing the game.
Modern game coverage though is a different beast. Analysts in the studio now have access to touch-screen interfaces and a variety of tools to review the action. The coverage itself is also much more technologically advanced, with multiple camera angles and the latest online/mobile ways to interact with the show.
Goal line technology
Technology can be very useful in soccer and goal line tech is a great example of this. It uses high-level software and cameras to determine whether a goal is valid. This is not always clear to the on-field officials, who might not see whether the whole ball has crossed the line in certain situations.
Cameras on the goalposts are able to detect if the entire ball has crossed the goal line or not, which then enables it to make an instant call for the on-field referee. As the decision this tech makes is purely factual, it works very well in professional soccer.
The most recent tech innovation to make a big impact in soccer was the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee system.
It was first trialed in the Dutch Eredivisie league in 2012/13 but was only first used for real in a top-flight match during 2017 in Australia’s A League. Since then, it has been used in the MLS, La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga. VAR hit the EPL in 2019/20 also and it has been a fixture in England’s top tier since.
In essence, this allows officials who are not on the field to watch high-quality footage of the match and review flashpoints on their monitors. This is intended to pick up on incidents which the on-field referee might have missed or called incorrectly. The VAR officials are able to communicate with the on-field referee to flag anything they are not happy with.
Soccer is at the cutting-edge of sports tech
Sports in general have started to incorporate the latest technology more frequently in recent times. This is certainly true for soccer and the modern game now has some impressive tech to support it. As time moves on and more technology is available to improve soccer, it will be interesting to see where this all heads next.