Fifa confirms use of tablets on bench at World Cup

Fifa trialled use of tablets on the bench at 2017 Confederations Cup final

Fifa trialled use of tablets on the bench at 2017 Confederations Cup final

FIFA has confirmed that electronic devices will be allowed on the bench at the World Cup, as reported by TGG last week.

All teams will be offered two devices: one for an analyst observing the match from the media tribune, another for the team on the bench.

Two optical tracking cameras located on the media tribune will track the positional data of players and the ball. Processed data and live footage will be transmitted to the analyst workstation at the media tribune.

Using a bespoke “analyst application” created by Fifa, the analyst will be able to view the player metrics and footage. The coaches on the bench will not be allowed to view live video, only still images with annotations from the analyst.

The coaches on the bench will be able to communicate with the analyst via radio talkback and a “chat tool” created by Fifa.

A Fifa spokesman told TGG that the devices would be “prepared and checked” by its staff before being given to the teams.

However, he also said that teams could “in principle bring their own devices as well” and that “we are not restricting the use of any specific software.”

This opens up the possibility of live physical data being accessed on the bench, via GPS. Players will be able to wear GPS vests during the tournament, although most opt not to for reasons of comfort.

It seems that teams will also, in theory, be able to access tactical analysis via their tablets on the bench. Fifa says it is not permitted to access live video footage, but it is not clear who will police this.

As Derby’s Head of Tactical Analysis Joe Carnall told TGG a couple of weeks ago, “the fourth official is going to have his work cut out.”

“They are going to have to be very precise in terms of what you can and can’t have on the bench and how you can use it live,” Carnall added.

“A lot of teams would like to make in-play decisions using live physical data. If we know a player has reached his max on player intensity, that could be a sub the manager could consider making.

“They have to be very transparent in terms of what the rules are going to be, because it could very easily be manipulated.”

The use of “small handheld technologies on the bench” was approved by IFAB in April, although its application at the World Cup was only announced this week.

The set-up in Russia will be the same as that trialled at last year’s Confederations Cup final between Germany and Chile.

Christofer Clemens, the head of analysis for Germany, said: “Data adds another component to the relationship between the technical scouting and analysis department and the coaching team.

"The use of real-time data in the technical area is a real benefit.

“Up until now, the processes for impacting the game were purely backed up by subjective observations – with all pros and cons. Reliable data now allows to validate these decision-making processes much more objectively.

"The common technical-tactical data is complemented with physical data and, more importantly, can be linked to footage from a number of different camera perspectives allowing the coaching staff to have a much better overview and more easily explain certain decisions to the players.”

"Positional data – particularly taking the position of the ball into account – will provide us with all relevant constellations for the opponent and the ball.”

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