conducted research together with soccer fans, journalists and experts on how the game of soccer will progress into the next decade. With all this expertise Orange predicted what the game will be by 2020. Technology was a major factor in the change expected for players and fans.
The findings found were that holographic viewing is a distinct possibility. Games will be able to be viewed in 3D in the comfort of your own home without large glasses. If stadiums cannot be sold out for games computer-generated graphics could be used to give TV viewers the impression of a full stadium. Sound clips could be added so that when a team scores, TV viewers will hear the crowd cheering.
Soccer stadiums will be effected greatly. Portsmouth and Manchester City have opted to exclude parking spaces from there grounds and have installed wind turbines. Solar panels could generate electricity for the stadium and reduce energy costs. In order to cut water costs stadiums will be fitted with artificial pitches. If there is a shortage of rain and stadiums require it they could be fitted with dry ice rockets which when fired into clouds encourages condensation and rain.
Fans could also benefit from stadium advancements. Seats could be equipped with monitors with the option to view the game from different angles. Services could be offered whereby fans order food delivered to them in their seats. It is known that certain odors can make us feel relaxed or active. Clubs could try to influence fans by spraying fragrance throughout the stadium. This influence could make fans cheer louder and help improve the atmosphere.
Technology will enhance the experience for fans by having 360-degree images where individuals could zoom in and out of the game. The wide-gap between soccer players and fans could become closer. Players and fans could share training regimes. You could learn how to glide pass players like Cristiano Ronaldo by incorporating his training regime with yours. Gaming consoles like the Wii could be used to make this reality. Fans could soon own their football club. When Malcolm Glazer took over Manchester United unhappy fans setup their own team called FC United. Fans now have a greater influence on what happens as opposed to a board room full of directors.
Managers will be able to make informed decisions by relying on artificial intelligence. Cameras can be used to extract information and spot behavior. Managers will know who is tiring and when. A look at the players history will tell when a player becomes tired during a game. If it is found that a player tires around the 70th minute this decreases the chance of a valuable contribution from a player in the final stages of a game and thus the manager could perform a substitution with a fresher player. The camera's could pickup body language and indicate to managers if players are becoming angry and alert managers before a player gets sent off for descent. Statistics could be gathered and could be determined which players do well against certain opposition and this could influence team selection to make the most out of the teams strengths and weaknesses.
Technology could assist referees in making informed decisions. RFID chips in balls could be used to to determine exactly were a foul happened for a free-kick. We could determine if a foul happened inside or outside a penalty box and this could prove the difference between a win and a loss. Communication between players and managers will improve greatly when they are linked directly. Managers would no longer have to shout from the touch line but rather just speak to give instructions. Players could give feedback while playing, on what is going on and report on injuries or problems the team are experiencing during a game.
Player injuries will be reduced when nanotechnology is incorporated into the game. Nanotechnology could be incorporated into shirts whereby the fabric destroys germs and pollutants. The shirt could replace minerals lost by the body during a game. Shirts could scroll advertisements and change during the game. Instead of having two sponsors on a shirt, teams could now have multiple during the game. Injury recovery time could be reduced by 300% with the use of cryotherapy chambers. Wayne Rooney used an oxygen tent to help speed up recovery to be fit for 2006 World Cup. It is possible for injuries to be non-existent in the future with advancements in gene therapy it might be possible to predict an injury before it happens
The findings are certainly exciting in some aspects but also worrying in others. Fan ownership seems like a great idea. It seems like soccer is following the open source model whereby the fans control what is happening and get a share in profits instead of an owner who feels like increasing ticket prices and exploiting fans. The use of 3D and computer generated crowds could greatly improve the experience for viewers at home. If the experience is so good it could possibly reduce crowd attendances and draw fans away from the game. A home team could use odors to try and keep the away fans quiet during games. Multiple advertisements on shirts seems to commercial the game a bit too much. Players will effectively become walking billboards and this could be an eyesore. However, technology to improve decision making and improve or prevent injuries will help with the quality of the game.
The future of soccer certainly seems exciting with technology playing a major part. The question remains, just how far are we willing to take it? If we are not careful we might just have robots running around on a field and take away the beauty of the game.