2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar: the most technological in history

A smart ball, temperature-controlled stadiums, artificial intelligence player tracking… the World Cup comes loaded with innovations.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar takes place from November 20 to December 18 and will go down in history for the many technological innovations implemented for the event.  Thanks to science and technology in sport, we have:

  • Smart Ball

The smart ball has an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor inside. This sensor sends data from the ball to the video operations room, which enables highly accurate detection of the kicking point. The chip is located inside the ball and tracks each touch of play at a rate of 500 times per second. The sensor is held in the center of the ball by a suspension system created by the manufacturer Adidas.

Each stadium has 12 cameras dedicated to monitoring the position of the ball and 29 points of the players’ bodies. Before informing the on-field referee, the match officials validate the decision proposed by video to decide.

In this way, referees have the data available to them during the match.

“The Al Rihla will be the first official World Cup ball to feature this innovation, providing accurate ball data, which will be available to match referees on video in real time,” says Adidas via a press release.

  • Player tracking with AI

The AI used in the World Cup is designed to detect offside more effectively. It follows the players’ limbs to detect if they are in an offside position. If so, it alerts the referee with an alert. It is an intelligent AI-based system that helps referees make the right decision quickly, without causing delays in play.

The system consists of cameras installed under the roof, which collect data at up to 29 points on each player’s body 50 times per second. The AI determines if any part of the player is offside within half a second and sends an alert to the VAR operator, who can validate and confirm the information and alert the referee. This is considered semi-automated offside technology. 

  • Demountable stadium

Inspired by LEGO, one of the eight stadiums available for the event, Stadium 974, is the first temporary venue in the history of the FIFA World Cup. It consists of 974 recycled stainless steel shipping containers that will be dismantled when the tournament is over. It was designed by the Spanish architectural firm Fenwick Iribarren. The entire structure has been built in such a way that it can be deconstructed at any time and rebuilt elsewhere or remodeled in smaller places.

  • Temperature control in stadiums

The average maximum temperatures in the Middle East are not favorable for such an event. They reach 29.5 °C. In addition, Qatar is one of the 20 hottest countries in the world, but thanks to the cooling technology Doha has introduced to help athletes, officials and spectators, this will not be a problem. The temperature will be kept cool at a constant 24-26°C during the tense matches.

Engineers devised an ingenious cooling system that uses a combination of insulation and “targeted cooling”. The cooled air enters through grilles in the stands and large nozzles in the stadium. Thanks to this air circulation technique, hot air is extracted, re-cooled, filtered and expelled, and the stadium only needs to be cooled two hours before the event. This also reduces the energy consumption required compared to other cooling methods.

Apart from all this, there will also be a sensory visualization room for fans with autism and other neurobehavioral needs, electric buses, smart toilets and faucets with automatic shut-off sensors to prevent water waste, and solar-powered cell phone chargers.