Opinion: IT in football

Football should make adopting technology a goal

Research has found that fans think about it every 12 minutes. For 40 weeks each year, we argue about it and whinge or gloat while making unwarranted claims of greatness based on the success of our team.

IT and it have one thing in common: most fans and IT professionals are men. So what is it and why write about it here?

It, you may have guessed, is football. Football is one of the few areas largely unaffected by technology, despite the common fanbase, and depth of feeling evoked by the game. My red, yellow and white scarf, which holds pride of place in my office, has been threatened with being run through the shredder if it ventures beyond my door. That is the kind of passion football can evoke.

And yet no football fan in IT has developed technology that would allow our blood pressure to remain steady when watching or discussing football.

For the good of the game

But there is at least one technology that could put an end to many arguments - and this is hardly a new idea - the introduction of video replays.

Many of those against this idea claim it would slow the game down - yet how many games have been brought to a standstill by players resorting to a rugby-type scrum with the target being an opposing player's ankles or head, in some cases following an unfair decision?

With the financial costs of relegation to the clubs concerned, or the glory of promotion, not to mention the reputation of the keen Fantasy Football players among us, it is surprising that more clubs and punters are not calling on IT for a system to put things right.

One recently demoted team was denied a win in their manager's first match in charge following an erroneous throw-in awarded against them in a game refereed by the often controversial Graham Poll. And as the season progressed the incidents that might have been prevented through use of technology accumulated.

This year's Carling Cup final saw both managers having to sprint to the field to separate their brawling players, and ended up with Arsenal's blameless Emmanuel Adebayor being shown a red card, leaving a sense again that referees need access to technology to enable them to improve the accuracy of their decision-making.

It is time to support IT

A London Premiership football club recently advertised an IT director role at a "robust" salary, suggesting that at least one club is thinking of taking technology seriously, but there is no point having the back-end infrastructure in place benefiting just the staff of the club when the main stakeholders of football, us fans, are still being cheated by incorrect decisions which simple technology on the field would correct.

If things do not change, when I am ready to depart from this world, I have asked relatives to place me in front of a video of a referee's farcical decisions and keep playing this until my heart stops - then they can announce she is a "gunner indeed".

Comment on this article: [email protected]

Read more on IT strategy