Date: 22nd March 2018 at 3:40pm
Written by:

Brits have long been celebrated as the inventors of modern day football, although some would argue that its origins can be traced as far back as ancient China. Regardless, it’s fair to say that football has travelled bounds ever since the early days of a ball and a group of players on a field.

All these changes will be showcased in full force at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. At this year’s World Cup, we will be able to record games from all angles with high-powered cameras, use goal-line technology to make key decisions, notice the peak of footballer’s athletic development and focus and introduce VAR for the first time ever on an international stage . These vast innovative changes in football, as with most things, can be attributed to nothing less than the advancement of technology. By the grace of technological innovation, football has constantly evolved over time.

At the beginning of the 19th Century, the game of football started to take shape and gain popularity in the public schools of Britain. Two barless posts would be placed at either end of a field with a goalkeeper in between them, and teams would strategise on how they could go about scoring more goals than their opponents. Although the basic principles hail strong today, it is in these schools that the composite for modern football was being formed – but no one could have foreseen what it would turn into.

It was not until the 1980s that cutting-edge technology really started to make its way into the footballing world, with video analysis coming into the fray. Coaches and players were able to watch their matches over and over, picking them apart, seeing plays from a brand-new perspective. This completely changed the way football was played. Tactically, managers became sharper and more aware of how to adapt their strategies. Players could see exactly where their mistakes and weaknesses were coming from, and start to rectify them.

In 1990 came the ‘Heart Rate Monitoring’ device, which is still in full use today. Using this clever appliance, clubs were able to collect direct data to determine the working intensity of their players. To this day, ‘Heart Rate Monitoring’ technology is being used to help manage the workloads of footballers.

The years between 2000 and 2003 saw sports science rise to prominence. Greater focus was given to the intricate overlaps between technology, physiology, biology and nutrition. As a result, strength and conditioning coaches have become a mainstay within clubs, making great contributions to the mental and physical development of players. It was during this time also that new food supplement products, such as protein shakes, became available on the market. These newly formed nutritional products aided footballers in dealing with the demands of modern football and also assisted in the process of recovery after training and matches.

It is when we start to look over the past ten years, however, that we can start to see the most extraordinary shifts in football technology. 2008 was the year that GPS tracking made its mark on football. A remarkable piece of technology in itself, it was inevitable that GPS would have a substantial impact on football. The use of GPS systems are what allow clubs to capture information on players such as total distance covered, quantity of accelerations and decelerations and volume of high-speed running they complete. Not only has this helped mitigate player injury by offering a better understanding of what they do on a pitch, it has also helped quantify a player’s capability. In an increasingly competitive purchasing market, such information allows clubs a better insight into the broad-scale work rate of a player across long periods of time, before choosing the best outfit against a specific opposition.

Technology geared towards optimising player health and recovery has also had a huge impact over the past few years. In the same year that GPS tracking systems were introduced onto the scene, ‘Compression Clothing’ gained tremendous popularity. These new sport-garments reduce the detrimental effects of fatigue such as muscle soreness and wasting, by increasing blood flow and tissue temperature through subtle pressures. The clothing is also believed to improve sensory reactivity, which is of course a crucial skill for any footballer. Later on in 2012, clubs started to use saliva samples to gain key information for health-check purposes. The main benefit to this novel form of testing was that the results could be obtained more or less immediately, without the usual arduous laboratory processes. The use of cryotherapy chambers to remove waste products from the muscles of players, though slightly controversial, gained prevalence in 2014. The treatment method made headlines when it became known that the Leicester City squad used cryotherapy religiously during their outstanding title winning campaign.

Today, the big talk of football technology is centred on VAR (video assistant refereeing), and quite rightly so. The VAR system consists of three referees analysing video replays of major decisions made by the main referee in a match, such as the issuing of red cards and penalties. During the game, a VAR team can either recommend that a decision be overturned, or be reconsidered by the acting referee to review an incident. It is unsurprising that this new development, with its direct impact on game-changing decisions, has split football fans into two camps. Some vehemently oppose VAR in disrupting the flow and nail-biting decisions of the ‘game we love’, whilst others embrace it as a welcome saviour from misjudged refereeing. FIFA president Gianni Infantino is one of those who has embraced it, so its inclusion in Russia will be a serious examination of its future incorporation.

So what’s next for football technology? Virtual and augmented reality have been hot topics of conversation – holographic pitch additions, multi-sensory headsets for viewers and computer referee officials, the possibilities are endless.

With technology shifting at an alarming rate, it is only a matter of time until it is trialled to improve the world’s biggest and most celebrated sport. It comes with its opposition and setbacks, however, being difficult to incorporate on such a magnitude. Nonetheless, the coming decade will be exciting for footballers, teams, pundits and fans alike.

Spencer Buchan is Managing Director of AVC Immedia. He is a Media and Sports business director with a proven track record in delivering global strategic projects across sport, media, commercial B2B and B2C markets. Spencer has founded and run multiple sports marketing businesses, working with clients including UEFA, FIFA, Sport Aberdeen and JD. He currently operates as a strategic Director, concerned with the delivery of content via video, animation, VR, 360, traditional and new media content methods for AIM listed Immedia Group PLC.
About AVC Immedia
AVC Immedia is a top-rated Media house with corporate and sports productions, audiovisual solutions, video production, 3D and 4D animation and cross platform digital media.
AVC Immedia is part of Immedia Group plc (AIM: IME), which acquired AVC Media in 2016 to enhance its service offering within video and 3D animation, app and web development. Immedia has provided multi-media content and digital solutions supported with powerful data analytics to global retailers and brands including Lloyds Banking Group, FIFA, JD Sports, O2, BP, IKEA and Subway Europe.
  • Aside from cerebrospinal fluid, what's on your mind?

  • JackDLad March 22, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    Great blog Spencer! I feel that we only got use to the refs spraying the shaving foam on the pitch for necessary reasons and suddenly we are introducing VAR. To me that’s like discovering the wheel and five minutes later building a fully working Ferrari. This is VARsical in my eyes. We need to introduce VAR slowly, yet they are throwing us in the deep end without armbands. We have been subject to disgraceful decisions with VAR and now the WC is going to suffer as well. Rant over!

    • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Really sorting out a particular play by video will get worse not better.
      It still takes humanity to check it.

      Sonny Liston got knocked out by a phantom punch by Ali circa 1963
      It has never been conclusive

      • JackDLad March 22, 2018 at 6:57 pm

        The only thing that will be conclusive in the WC is the sorting of the refs from boys to men. We will see who a world class ref is and who has footballs of steel to rely on their own decisions!

    • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 6:42 pm

      Variscal is genius!

  • Freund or Foe March 22, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Well if no one else will….
    Nice article Spencer.

    I’m just sorry that all your effort is wasted on the blog inmate ingrates.

    • 61SpursNut🌰 March 22, 2018 at 6:21 pm

      Did I miss sumfink?

  • Superspoz 🏆 March 22, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    So it’s true. Pav didn’t raan abaht a bit.

  • legoverlass March 22, 2018 at 4:43 pm

    Would love to see the GPs stats on Sissoko these past few painful years !

    • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      99% Pochs Man

      • Ronan March 22, 2018 at 5:44 pm

        I thought that myth had been dispelled by what Poch said in his book.

        • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 6:31 pm

          Was that a myth too?
          Its like fake news nowadays.

          • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 6:33 pm

            Im going to start to ask people if what they say was a myth. TBH site should liven up soon!

  • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    What is important is that the silent majority are buying seats in the South Stand like nobody’s business.

    Don’t they realise we stand for 90 mins and actually sing?

    There’s going to be a ruck when someone from the east stand who bought a “cheap seat” in the South is faced with the standing ethos.

    I cannot wait. I really cannot wait.

    All the fucking seats will have gone anyway when Wednesday comes.

    • Sexy Beast March 22, 2018 at 4:46 pm

      Hmmmm 🤨
      What you are telling me here is that my season ticket is going to cost me a small fortune 😡

      • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:53 pm

        Have you been on the interactive stadium plan?

        Everyone (well nearly everyone) in phases 1&2 are South Stand.

        Phase 4, which opens on Wednesday, are hardly likely to get a place in their usual place.

        Expect a “sit down” policy.

        In our atmospheric fan stand.

        • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 5:24 pm

          Of course to will be a “sit down” job – until Safe Standing is finally (if ever) introduced then everywhere will be.

        • Ronan March 22, 2018 at 5:45 pm

          Hopefully they’ll have as much success implementing a no standing policy as they did the park lane.

          • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 5:57 pm

            Hand to hand fighting ala West Ham fans would look great on my telly

            • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 6:34 pm

              You had to be there.
              I wasnt your ‘onour…’onest…I would tell a word of a lie…’onest guv,’onest…

  • Sexy Beast March 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    You’ve gone from a werewolf to a scarecrow 😂

    • Horndog 🇺🇸 March 22, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      My Ipad is screwed up. It won’t change my avatar. Phone does, pc does. Oh well.

  • Horndog March 22, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    Techno footie. Embrace it or get left behind. I’m trailing.

    • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Thats a bit of a sretch HD

    • Sexy Beast March 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

      You’ve gone from a werewolf to a scarecrow 😂

  • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Uber to Chelsea
    Dial em up
    We want a pot
    Not the circumference
    of the cup
    Poch stretches it
    Spandex princes
    Its a game now of millimeters
    not inches
    Up the shares,down the cup
    Levy beam us up

    • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:17 pm


      • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:29 pm

        Its supposed to be what you think it us sorry Im not allowed to in devulge.

  • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Complete bollocks.

    Just make it easier and cheaper to go to a game.

    • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Oh stop clogging up society, buy yourself a 4k telly, and live the dream…

      Easier and cheaper? Call yourself a true fan?! Sell a kidney make it happen.

      • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:16 pm

        Now that I know which side your bread is buttered…


        It’s always TV.

        Working class game?


        Not that I’ll be going to Russia.

        That’s for the Arse fans.


        • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 4:20 pm

          Working until your 75 class game more like.

          Pass the Olivio.

          • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:21 pm

            Up the gentrificationalists!

            • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm


    • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:31 pm

      All the science I dont understand it
      Its just my job 5 days a week
      Im a rocket man-an-an
      Im a rocket man
      – Sir Alex Ferguson

  • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    Tech Ditchburn

  • SPURSTY I Shrank the Yids 💋 March 22, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    A journey through the history of football technology? No way?! Fan-f*cking-tastic!

    • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm

      I knew this would only anger readers – so I didn’t even charge the guy.

      • Bruxie March 22, 2018 at 4:26 pm

        Are you having a bad day, pet?

        You always anger readers.

        You don’t need anyone else to help.

        And if you are paying…

        I’ll apply for the job.

        • ronwol196061🇨🇦 March 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

          Harry is taking the high road

        • Harry Hotspur March 22, 2018 at 5:58 pm

          Never had a bad day.

          I waived the my fee. Not theirs.

  • SPURSTY I Shrank the Yids 💋 March 22, 2018 at 3:57 pm