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08th Nov 2023

Kids want cameras in footballs and AI referees in the future, according to study

Jack Peat

As if VAR wasn’t controversial enough!

The days of footballers hounding referees over on-field decisions could soon be a thing of the past if the kids of the future get their way.

A new study has ranked AI referees as one of the tech developments children want to see in sport, as well as cameras in footballs to give them more close-up action.

While 85 per cent of those aged 10 to 16 watch some form of sport, 25 per cent would be likely to view more if robots and computers were involved.

Especially if there were devices that can fix broken bones and injuries in a flash, reducing the need for all that rolling around on the pitch!

A spokesperson for Virgin Media O2 which is supporting BBC Children in Need with 5G connectivity across their national Hado esport tour, said: “Technological advances are unlocking new possibilities every day.

“From VAR to Hawkeye, smart balls to wearable sensors, technology has already transformed sport in ways unimaginable a few decades back.

“While we’re someway from many of the out-there ideas young people dreamt up, cutting-edge 5G connectivity will help unlock new innovation in future.

“It is clear from the research that children want to see more technology used and that it would have a positive impact on how much they watch and play their favourite sports.”

Despite widespread controversy over the implementation of VAR and video technology in the modern game, football was the most popular sport to watch, with 64 per cent of the youngsters tuning in.

Tennis (26 per cent) and rugby (24 per cent) claimed silver and bronze when it comes to most popular sports, while 15 per cent said they hadn’t watched any sport at all, either in person or on TV in the past year.

However, a quarter of kids said they would be more inclined to watch sports if technology was involved – compared to only four per cent who would be less likely.

Almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) said they would be excited if more technology was added to their favourite game.

The idea of robot-referees was popular as were cameras in smart footballs (both 41 per cent), while 17 per cent were taken with exoskeleton suits to protect athletes and 12 per cent fancied supplying basketball players with trampolines.

Teleportation around the golf course to make the game quicker was a hit with an impatient 13 per cent and 14 per cent thought motorised swimsuits were a genius idea.

Top 15 most wanted tech developments in sports – voted by kids

  1. Smart balls with built in sensors
  2. Cameras in footballs
  3. Virtual reality headsets for fans so they can see sport through eyes of their favourite player
  4. Eco-friendly sports stadiums
  5. Injury prevention technology so players don’t get injured
  6. Robot referees
  7. Advanced safety technology to let coaches know if players are injured
  8. Virtual fan interactions which let viewers speak to players
  9. Underwater racing cars
  10. Exoskeleton suits to make players stronger
  11. Artificial intelligence (AI) sports commentary
  12. Swimsuits which have motors on them
  13. Trampolines in basketball
  14. Teleportation on golf courses to make the game quicker
  15. Artificial intelligence (AI) coaches

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