I saw this article recently and it is a great time to show our school kids a real world use of ICT and computing relating to a serious sporting event. The full original article is linked at the end of this blogpost.
There’s been no short supply of controversy around this year’s World Cup, and now the actual tournament has kicked off—and after that rather iffy penalty awarded to Brazil in their first match against Croatia in the first game… we can expect to see some on the pitch too.
In a recent blog post it was also shown that Anonymous are hacking websites and systems relating to the World Cup which is also another ethical, moral and legal issue to bring to the attention of students. The post suggest that “Coming good on its promise, hacktivist collective Anonymous has knocked out a number of websites belonging to World Cup 2014 sponsors and Brazilian government over the last two days, in protest at the epic funds spent on the competition. And that could just be the start of the hacks.
According to multiple sources, a slew of sites, including Hyundai, the Emirates Group, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency and the host country’s Department of Justice, were yesterday taken out by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, where networks are flooded with traffic by attackers.” – source is here for the original post
Hacker News Bulletin highlighted further sites targeted today by Anonymous Brazil, which is running the campaign, called OpHacking Cup. They include the Brazilian government’s official World Cup page and the Ministry of Sport, with some apparent success in disrupting those services.
But this year, there shouldn’t be any dispute over one pretty vital point of the game: whether the ball is in the goal or not. With so few goals scored in a match, you might think it wouldn’t be too hard to notice when it actually does happen, but recent history would prove you wrong. Just go back to the 2010 World Cup and poor Frank Lampard’s woefully uncounted non-goal goal. The England player clearly kicked the ball over the goal-line—which is, after all, the one thing he and his pals are paid millions to do—but somehow the referee didn’t see it. England lost the match
The company who is at the centre of this project is Goal Control. The promo video can be seen here
The company has also claimed that the system is totally unhackable;
- First up, there’s no internet connection, which removes a whole host of potential vulnerabilities. “Another important fact to point out is that our transmission code of the sender is extremely secure and has got a frequently changing encrypted code,” Dittrich explained. “We are not using the wifi/LAN frequency band of 2.4 GHz.”
- The system doesn’t actually sit on the goal-line, or the pitch at all. The 14 cameras are mounted around the stadium, seven for each goal, to give a full view of the whole penalty area. When the ball enters that space, they track it continuously from seven angles. If it crosses the goal line, an encrypted message is sent to a watch that the referee wears. Within a second of the goal, the watch vibrates and sends a visual signal, and that’s all the info they get: It’s meant to be a simple, yes/no confirmation.
But what if the ball was halfway over the goal-line. Would it be able to make the call? “Halfway is no goal—of course!” GoalControl spokesperson Rolf Dittrich said. “Only when the ball passes the goal-line completely, the system sends a vibration and optical signal to the officials’ watches. The accuracy of goal detection is about 5 mm!”…. I wonder how long until someone takes that half-centimetre to task?
The company also makes a product called GoalControl-Replay, which is an intriguing hint at where football technology could continue to head. After a goal recorded by the goal-line system, it renders a virtual image of the ball on the pitch, which could be shown to spectators to show the goal-line view. While it’s not suggested that particular function could be used by officials to question decisions, it certainly nods to the argument over whether football should also start using video replays so controversial referee judgments can be challenged. Like if a soft penalty is awarded because a player dives at the lightest touch from an opponent, for instance.
While GoalControl is only intended to be used at the goal-line, Dittrich suggested the technology could be put to other uses. “Because of the fact that the system is camera-based, additional applications are conceivable,” he said.