How Technology Changed the 2018 World Cup

How Technology Changed the 2018 World Cup

The World Cup is a popular quadrennial sporting event that tends to whip up emotions of fans as they look forward to their teams’ performance.

From excitement to anxiety, jubilation to disappointment, soccer enthusiasts usually stay glued to the screens as they watch the outcome of every match.

And, with advancements in sports tech innovations, such as the easy to create time tracking dashboard, the experiences have been taken a notch higher.

Technology in the 2018 World Cup

The FIFA 2018 World Cup held in Russia leveraged technology to change football in unprecedented ways.

Officiating the matches was made easier for referees and match officials who used various tools that enhanced the decisions made in the field.

Passionate fans watched as referees relied on the various technological tools to get more information as the players engaged in the pitch.

The use of technology in the 2018 World Cup received mixed reactions with some fans believing that the innovations made the matches boring and slowed down the game as the referees took a few minutes to consult.

On the other hand, some people applauded the use of technology as it ensured the legitimacy of actions taken by referees to allow or disallow goals and award penalties or free kicks.

Notable examples of miscalculated decisions include the 1986 World Cup remembered for the “Hand of God” goal scored by Diego Maradona and a disallowed goal during the 2010 World Cup scored by Frank Lampard.

Here are a few of the notable football technologies used during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

1. Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

The VAR is a video tool for referees to assist them in better decision making. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) consented to using the video technology to assist in reducing match errors and to improve clear-cut match-altering decisions.

In the history of the World Cup, the VAR technology was first used in the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Making rational and fair decisions in the blink of an eye may be difficult for referees who are expected to keep a keen eye on the players on the pitch.

During a match, the VAR avails verbal information to referees, but they can also take a few minutes to review the video footage before taking a critical decision.

The referee’s call can alter the course of a match; and the high stakes of the World Cup games necessitate absolutely clear-cut decisions.

2. Goal-Line Technology

Allowing or disallowing a goal is one of the most mind-boggling decisions that a referee has to make. This is for completely obvious reasons: a backlash from passionate fans or aggrieved players is an experience no referee would want to go through.

The goal-line technology was first used in the World Cup tournament held in Brazil in 2014.  The 2018 FIFA World Cup leveraged this football technology in which 14 cameras were used to capture as many as 500 frames per second for image processing.

The filming was captured in 3D to determine where a ball entirely crossed a goal line. The information was processed and sent to a referee’s watch a second later, allowing him to make well-informed decisions.

3. Wearable Tech

Since its approval by the International Football Association Board, wearable technology has continued to grow in popularity in different sporting activities.

The 2018 FIFA tournament in Russia saw the use of this technology in a World Cup for the first time.

The wearable tech includes microphones worn by the referees and watches used in the goal-line technology as well as for receiving and relaying other match-related information such as match results, timings, red and yellow cards.

The other wearable tech includes tracking devices known as the Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems. These devices make tracing individual player’s activities on the pitch much easier, allowing the team’s management to make proper decisions.

As a result, it helps in lowering the possibility of overburdening a single player and reducing injuries of identified players.

Performance data can also be obtained through the wearable technology where teams have smart vests, which allow close cross-examination of the players wearing them while they are on the pitch.

4. Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS)

The automated performance and tracking system is a wearable technology that uses optical tracking cameras in tracking the ball and players on the pitch. It was first used in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The technology consists of communication devices and tools that relay real-time information and player statistics to analysts and coaches.

During the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the EPTS helped analysts to perform real-time analysis of the players’ actions, which led to enhanced decision making.

EPTS provides statistics and information about player tackles, speed, positioning, and passes, which can be used to improve both player and team performance.

5. Contactless Payment

Off the pitch, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia experienced an overwhelming increase in the use of debit, credit, and smartcards for payment of goods and services.

A quick analysis of the fans spending patterns inside the Russian stadia saw an upward trend in the use of the contactless payment technology.

The payment technology helped in boosting spending by making transactions seamless and quick.

This reduced the amount of time spent on queues in the different stadia and gave the fans an opportunity to spend more time enjoying the games.

Blowing the final whistle

The World Cup provided an ideal platform for innovative technologies to be used.

Leveraging the modern advancements in technology should be emphasized in future tournaments as well, which will transform the world of football for even better experiences.

About author

I, Dr. Michael J. Garbade is the co-founder of the Education Ecosystem (aka LiveEdu), ex-Amazon, GE, Rebate Networks, Y-combinator. Python, Django, and DevOps Engineer. Serial Entrepreneur. Experienced in raising venture funding. I speak English and German as mother tongues. I have a Masters in Business Administration and Physics, and a Ph.D. in Venture Capital Financing. Currently, I am the Project Lead on the community project -Nationalcoronalvirus Hotline I write subject matter expert technical and business articles in leading blogs like,, Cybrary, Businessinsider,, TechinAsia, Coindesk, and Cointelegraph. I am a frequent speaker and panelist at tech and blockchain conferences around the globe. I serve as a start-up mentor at Axel Springer Accelerator, NY Edtech Accelerator, Seedstars, and Learnlaunch Accelerator. I love hackathons and often serve as a technical judge on hackathon panels.