Are you ready for Malware Moscow against Disruption Shanghai? FIFA isn't.
After half a century of controvery over goals and no-goals based on muffed calls by referees the International Federation of Association Football has agreed to use goal line technology at the FIFA 2014 Brazil World Cup, when it's needed.
While the technology will be available in Brazil to support the referee it is not backed enthusiastically by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who contends that it's use takes the human factor out of football and that the human factor is what attracts fans to the game.
In keeping with FIFA's bureaucratic tradition the International Football Association Board (IFAB) that reviews and preserves the sanctity of association football rules worldwide has, after a lengthy testing and evaluation process, approved two goal line technology systems for use.
But there's a Catch 22. Without world class cybersecurity infrastructure in place both systems green lighted by IFAB are vulnerable to cyber attack.
The threat potential emanates from hackers and operations associated with security services and contractors operating under the aegis of various governments. For professional and amateur hackers the allure of a big cyber attack has less to do with changing the outcome of a World Cup game than with reminding the world that they can strike with stealth and add power to the growing global hacker subculture.
The Hawk Eye system, owned by entertainment giant Sony and already used in tennis and cricket, employs a computer, video imaging techniques and telemetry. Not suprisingly, tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have complained that Hawk Eye does not make accurate line calls. Federer, however, recently went on the record supporting its use in FIFA football.
Goal Ref, a german product, actually imbeds a chip into the football and uses low frequency magnetic wave technology to determine whether all of the ball has crossed the goal line.
When not defensed on a consistent basis both systems are vulnerable to cyber attack. In addition Goal Ref imbedding a chip into the ball and using thin copper wire inside it is inviting to hackers who might use their own wave beams to actually alter the path of the football.
Supported by referees, the Premier League plans to implement goal line technology soon. And the technologies will get a test run at the FIFA Confederations Cup to be held in Brazil in June.
But the powerful Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and leagues under its aegis continues to question the use of any goal line technology.
Government and private football pools linked to association football generate huge gambling revenues weekly throughout Europe and elsewhere.
With Europe and other regions continuing to feel the pain of the ongoing economic crisis the cost of the new technology is rarely mentioned or discussed. Developing nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America , where riots and deaths have resulted from bad calls, may not be able to afford implemention.
After Brazil, the whole picture will change when the FIFA 2018 Russia World Cup takes center stage. FIFA insider politics and cronyism will bring new tenders for goal line "technology" into the mix.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, who enjoyed watching powerhouse Dynamo Dresden when he was a KGB captain staioned in "East Germany" during the Cold War, is president of the Russia World Cup Organizing Committe. And since it's no secret that he's not a big supporter of Blatter's long and inept reign over football's world governing body the Kremlin boss will probably seek to implement goal line surveillance developed at his behest.
If Blatter ends his career with a last hurrah and musters enough support to bring back the "golden ball" shootout as a tie-breaking method at the FIFA 2018 Russia World Cup the use of goal line technology could bring back the suspense and excitement the World Cup tournament hasn't seen since 1998. Without world class cybersecurity in place it will create a lot of excitement for the hackers too.
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