Innovations at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is currently keeping the world on tenterhooks. The players give their best on the field every day in Russia. But even if football has remained reasonably true to the rules for decades, the popular sport also incorporates a wide variety of innovations that take the sporting experience to a completely new level. Improving comfort, safety and performance is particularly important for the players and referees.

Electronic power and tracking systems

As a football player, you always have to do your best. Therefore, it is important to always keep an eye on one’s own performance and to continuously improve it. Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS) help to get to the top of their game in order to give their best in the World Championship. The systems can be used either camera-based or with wearables. The use of such portable technologies is nothing new in football. A number of English Premiere League football clubs, for example, used the APEX Athlete Monitoring devices.

APEX Athlete Monitoring (Source: APEX)

The sensors are processed in a compression vest that is positioned between the shoulder blades. The tracking system records physical performance during training and play, including physical strain and movement of the players and displays values such as speed, delays and heart rate. In a typical training session, millions of records are written about each player, allowing them to take their performance to a whole new level.

It is now also standard wearables for the World Cup. In March 2015, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) decided to allow portable technology in football.


The official NFC match ball of the Football World Cup

Adidas has been the official producer of the official match ball of the World Cup since the 1970s. The sports group naturally also uses the stage to present and test the latest innovations. This year’s ball, called Telstar 18, is a reinterpretation of the design of Adidas’ first World Cup ball, but apart from its appearance, it is also a completely new technological league. This year, a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip was integrated for the first time. If you’re wondering what NFC is, it’s the same technology that makes it possible to pay by mobile phone or buy tickets with just a touch. Although the functionality is very limited and is mainly limited to product information that can be transmitted to a smartphone, this change in the ball naturally has a lot of potential for all conceivable data.


Virtual Reality Football Experience

The fact that Virtual Reality has already conquered the sport should not be anything new. In sports such as tennis, it is now possible to follow the individual matches using a cardboard without any problems, and in football, for example, Sky has already offered the opportunity to participate live at the edge of the pitch. For the current FIFA World Cup, the BBC has set itself the goal of enhancing the experience in Virtual Reality even further by relying on Ultra HD (4K quality).

BBC Virtual Reality Experience (Source: VRScout)

With the VR systems, fans can find themselves in a virtual luxury box in the stadium and have access to live statistics and a wide variety of viewing angles that are not possible from the television.


This year’s Football World Cup is therefore not only an array of top sporting achievements, but also once again proof that disruption and innovation have their place in all areas. Like the rest of the world, football is changing and heading for the world of tomorrow. But one thing will probably always remain the same: “The round must be squared” as football legend Sepp Herberger so aptly put it at the 1954 World Cup.


Post Picture: FIFA

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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