James Kenealey morson sport
The World Cup captures people’s imaginations like no other sporting event on the planet. Each one of the 32 nations who take part in the finals is gripped by excitement and fandom regardless of their individual expectations for their nation’s progress. Sometimes, it really is the taking part that counts.
But what of the engineering and technology behind the World Cup? We looked at three feats of engineering that have made World Cup 2018 possible.
'Don’t mention the VAR!'
For the first time ever Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is being used in all of the games during the World Cup to correct and clarify decisions made by referees. The ability to replay back incidents can allow match officials to see things that they would ordinarily not have been able to see in real time, such as the ball glancing ever so slightly off the inside ankle of a centre back to play a Korean onside.
VAR works in a three-step process of incident, review, decision and can investigate the following errors:
- Red cards
- Mistaken identity
Fifa president Gianni Infantino said:
“It will help to have a more transparent and fairer sport which is what we want because the referee has his work cut out for him already and sometimes he can make mistakes – like any human being – and if we can help him to correct some of these mistakes, let’s do so.”
A TEMPORARY FIX
Anyone who has ever been to Priesfield Stadium, home of League One club Gillingham, as a visiting supporter will have had the pleasure of being in the gloriously makeshift away stand. Made almost exclusively out of scaffolding, the stand was put together over an old terrace, presumably as a temporary fix while they prepared to construct a more permanent solution. It’s been there for a long, long time.
What you wouldn’t expect, however, is to see a much, much larger version of this stand being constructed for Russia 2018. But that’s exactly what we’ve got at the home of Russian Premier League outfit Ural Yekaterinburg.
The enormous construction was required to bring the stadium capacity up to 35,000 at short notice in order to meet FIFA’s minimum capacity guidelines. With a full scale, permanent expansion heavily delayed, it was decided instead to construct this 45 meters high monster behind the goal.
Spectators have to hope that the Russian weather is kind to them, with the vast majority of the seating open to the elements.
The stadium hosted four games in the tournament, including Sweden’s 3-0 win over Mexico. All of the games hosted came in the group stages.
Cutting-edge technology has now brought the ability to monitor player’s heart rate and performance whilst training. The black vests that you often see in pictures of footballers training is a new system called Viper Pod which is a matchbox-sized GPS device, placed between the shoulder blades of the player.
Originally used in the Premier League, the handy device ensures the players are in peak physical condition before the game and allows coaches to make informed decisions about the best way to get the most out of the team.
Measuring a 360 view of the player’s performance, it can record things like running distance, speed, step balance, stress loads and of course, fitness and wellbeing.