The future of technology in football as seen by FIFA’s MA’s Technical Directors

The strongest consensus is for supporting processes and objective decisions while opinions differ more on how big an impact technology will have on collective and individual capabilities of players and coaching staff. Leveraging technology is one of the cornerstones of the FIFA Vision for 2020-2023. To better assess what this means for the 211 Member Association, the Football Technology Innovation Sub-Division commissioned a Delphi study which seeks to quantify expert input in relation to future developments. Simply put, FIFA invited more than 140 technical directors to take part in a structured questionnaire centred on 11 projections around the state of technology in football in 2026. The study was designed and executed jointly with the Center for Sports and Management (CSM) of the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management in Düsseldorf. The respondents, representing all of the Confederations in a statistically significant manner, shed light on probability of occurrence, desirability and impact of technology in football covering use in training, in game and for officiating purposes. All answers take into account the local realities of each respondent and their understanding of the global development of the game. This first-of-its-kind global survey offers a useful reference for FIFA in relation to meeting its objectives to grow the game globally with the support of technologies in the best possible way. A more detailed paper analysing some of the less uniformly accepted projections and taking a deeper dive into some of the statistically relevant differences in regional perceptions of the topics is to follow. This report however already paints a very positive attitude of these leading experts towards the use of technology in football but with a healthy understanding of its limitations. It comes as little surprise that there is consensus on the benefits of applying technology to simplify tasks for coaches or scouts (for example through artificial intelligence) but both a desire and belief remain that the artistic element of a player and the game should and will not be impacted in the same way by technology.