STEM isn’t just for the classroom. It’s all around us, and it’s important to make those connections for our students. This week we’re going to take a dive into the 2022 World Cup and how technology has had its influence on the game of soccer! Let’s take a trip around the globe as we get ready for the World Cup hosted in Qatar.
Located in the Middle East, Qatar is one of the hottest countries in the world. At the time of the World Cup in November and December, and although it is officially winter, the country will still see temperatures in the 80s. In response to the high temperatures and playing in the desert, Qatar has built all the stadiums for the World Cup to have air conditioning systems that will keep the players cool on the field and the fans cool in the stands. These AC systems are set up using an air-circulation technique that will cycle the warm air to be cooled, filtered, and pushed out to players and fans. Qatar came up with this technique by running many tests on 3D-printed models of the stadiums to determine how the wind would flow throughout the stadium. The stadiums will also use solar energy collected from solar panels to create their own power and produce energy for these AC systems and other electronics at the stadium.
Technology has played a big part in player performance as well. Today’s players all play while wearing some type of Electronic Performance and Tracking System, or EPTS for short. This system uses a combination of cameras, wearable sensors, lasers, and GPS to track players’ movements and measure important vitals throughout the match. Using the information gathered from EPTS coaches, players, and medical staff can all continue to improve and have data to check progress!
Improving player performance isn’t the only way technology is improving soccer. Integration of technology on the pitch, or the soccer field, has been going on for a couple years now. The first use of technology on the pitch was to help determine goals. A goal in soccer is when the whole ball crosses the goal line, and sometimes this can be hard to determine and very controversial. In 2001, the first Goal-Line Technology was introduced. This system used cameras that sat over the goal to help determine when and if the ball truly crossed over the goal line. This system was later improved to use radio frequencies to determine when the ball crossed the line. This worked by setting up a magnetic field in the goal and using a ball that was embedded with electric circuits to help determine goals. This system was later updated again to the most recent version of Goal-Line Technology that is used today. Today’s system works very similarly to the first system that was introduced because it is a camera-based system. Today there are 14 cameras that can capture upwards of 500 frames per second to determine the ball’s location in the goal. Once the ball crosses the goal line, a signal is sent to the referee’s watch to notify him a goal was scored.
Technology on the pitch also helps determine offside calls. Offside is a penalty in soccer where the offensive player receives a pass just beyond the last defensive player, resulting in a free kick for the defensive team. Just like determining a goal, an offside penalty can be just as crucial and controversial as a goal. To help become more accurate in calling offside, soccer uses the help of technology to get the calls right. Again, this is done by putting a tracker in the ball. This tracker not only determines the ball’s positioning on the field but also can detect when the ball is kicked. To help, there are also sensors and cameras all over the field to help determine ball positioning and the positioning of the players. These cameras will be able to pick up 29 data points from each player while using the tracker and lasers to determine ball position and make a call accurately.
Do you think integrating technology into sports is a good thing or a bad thing? Many people argue that the integration of technology, not only into soccer but other sports, will take away from the natural “human error” of sports. Also taking time away from the game to review calls has made people wonder: is it worth it?
Be sure to tune into the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which started yesterday, and the final being on December 18th. Now you can dazzle your students with some fun STEM connections to the biggest sports tournament in the world!