A Blog from QualiTest

Technology used in FIFA and the Importance of Testing

World Cup technology is first-class, so enjoy the games!

Association football is the world’s most watched sport, and the quadrennial event known as the Men’s World Cup is certainly the biggest single-sport event celebrated this year.  Many expectations we might have depended on, like former champion Germany making it to the Final 16, or any of South America or Africa making it to the Semi-finals were not to be.  And so, we have an unexpected Semi-final with 3 from Europe (Belgium, England, France) plus Croatia (after host country Russia fell in the tie-breaking shoot out).

While history may not be the basis for reliability regarding team success, there is one place at the World Cup where reliability is crucial: the technology behind it.  While football has enjoyed the character of having fallible human refs making calls that not everyone agrees with, World Cup 2010 was turning point where the botched calls (England’s Frank Lampard’s disallowed goal against Germany, US’s Maurice Edu’s visible goal on Slovenia, and a variety of personal fouls and handballs – including by Uruguay’s notorious Luis Suárez).  But I digress – let’s get to the tech that must not fail.

GLT (Goal-Line Technology): GLT is designed to answer that vital question “Did the ball fully make it over the goal line, thereby counting as a goal?” which can be hard to answer.  In 2012, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) allowed but did not mandate the usage of this expensive equipment, which has been part of every World Cup since 2014.  The 4 GLT systems for use are Cairos GLT system and GoalRef (which both include a sensor in the ball) and Goalminder and Hawk-Eye (which only use video cameras to determine location).

VAR (Video Assistant Referees): From a video operation room, VAR’s can replay to determine the following 4 concerns: goals and violations that might affect them, penalty decisions, direct red card decisions, and mistaken identity of yellow/red cards.  FIFA says that VAR has elevated the accuracy of making correct calls which used to be 95% but is now 99.3%, based on the group stage of the 2018 World Cup.

Streaming media/telecom: If you’re watching the World Cup, chances are that you’re streaming it or watching it on TV.  Assuming a clean feed from the source, the ultimate quality of the broadcast is determined downstream by the broadcasting entity, affected by the network quality and device being streamed to.  At QualiTest, we have experience testing each link in this chain, from telecom companies like EE and Verizon, or using our mobile test lab.