A slightly off-beat topic, but very related to how we are getting to “techy” these days and loosing happiness in life! A strong case for Adaptive Intelligence over Artificial Intelligence really…
The FIFA World Cup 2018 is on in Russia and the whole world is glued on to their TV sets, Streaming services, Mobiles and some lucky ones are actually watching these games LIVE from the beautiful stadiums in Moscow, St. Petersburg and others. We all have our favorite teams and its a football extravaganza on show…
In a such a high stakes tournament, a small error by the referee can be extremely costly for some teams or lucky for others. Remember the “Hand of God” goal by Diego Maradona at the 1986 World Cup vs England? or the controversial Frank Lampard disallowed goal vs Germany at the 2010 event? To eliminate such errors than can vastly influence results and destiny of teams, new technology is introduced at World Cup 2018.
One of these is the VAR – Virtual Assistant Referee. You will find lot about this tech on the web but it is basically a replay screen that the on-field referee can refer to in case he has doubts about a particular incident or decision. Innovative indeed… you feel that this could help resolve blunders and make the game error free.
We are at the end of the group stages of tournament (30+ games) and therefore a fair evaluation of this system can be made based on experience so far. We have to say, this system has proved to be a damb squib for many reasons:
It has remained inconclusive on many occasions. E.g. Spain v Morocco game. Was Iago Aspas off-side in stoppage time? The line technology showed his shoulder outside the offline trap. After numerous replays and angles, it was conceded on-side and Spain’s equalizer was considered valid, game ended 2-2 and they progressed to next stage. Morocco hard done by.
The VAR is time consuming. Football is game of speed and momentum. Everyone gets into the game passionately and then the whistle goes out indicating a VAR review. The referee has to first gesture for the review, explain to the on-field players and then run outside the touch-line to look at the TV screen behind the team benches. It adds to the drama for sure, but the tempo is lost. Teams want to move on with the game and so do the spectators but these delays seem painful.
Referees are seen explaining decisions to on field players. Referees are explaining to players why he chose to go for VAR and then why a particular decision was made? This leads to more arguments with the umpire. Who’s in charge here?
Players and Coaches Demand VAR On-Demand: It is being observed that anything happens in the box, players rush towards the umpire for a VAR review. All teams are doing that. Why have an umpire then?
The fear is – there shouldn’t be a clamour to remove on-field referees and replace them with bots or no-refs at all. Tech will govern games, blow whistles, take decisions and make the game error-free. Are we looking at enjoying fair games? or watching drab rule based action?
In sport – its not just about technique and rules, it is about passion and emotions. Technology will establish issues with technique and rules but it cannot address emotions and passion and that’s where it is failing badly. Referees have been set to govern the game. Why should they have to explain their decisions? He is in-charge and his decision is final. That is the beauty of the game. Even the greatest players have bad days. Messi and Ronaldo miss penalties, David Da Gea allows a ball to miss throw his hand for a goal, so why cant a referee have a bad day? Selection of referees should be stricter to ensure they are knowledgeable, committed and integral. Bringing in technology to address errors is taking the charm and drama out of the game…
Am sure authorities will look into this aspect as we move forward… Adaptive Intelligence is need of the hour (human + tech), not plain Artificial Intelligence (tech only). Let us not take the “human” away from our lives. It will lead to disastrous consequences…
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