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Soccer is one of the most popular sports in the world. Over the years, FIFA has developed high standards of qualifications for referees in soccer matches. The essence of enhancing the quality of the referees is to ensure the required level of profession in judging different matches is applied, especially on the matter of making the appropriate decisions on violations committed during the games.
It is apparent that the use of technology in refereeing in soccer matches has gained popularity because it enhances the efficiency of the referees. However, there is still a major challenge facing the training process of referees because much of the training is conducted theoretically. Referees need to experience the practical nature of the profession during the training process, and the VR technology will eliminate the underlying challenges to the development of experience in the profession.
One of the underlying issues in referee training processes is the lack of practical platforms to train the referees. It is apparent that most referees depend on the experience gained during actual soccer matches, and this implies that there are many mistakes that a trainee might make during an actual match. Every once in a while, a referee will make a critically wrong call in a match, and this implies that the training process of the professional referees should face a paradigm shift to provide a holistic approach to the training process.
For instance, most referees make mistakes when awarding extra time in games and this may result in critical issues as seen in 1978, when referee Clive Thomas awarded a corner in the last seconds of the match (Fitch, 2013). He blew the whistle immediately the ball was hit by the corner kick taker, but the ball was later headed for a goal. However, since the referee had already blown the whistle, the goal was not counted. Such mistakes are common in the contemporary soccer world, and they can be eliminated through better practical training platforms for referees.
In the current times, referees are guided by assistants and technological devices to make the right call in soccer matches, but the ultimate decision depends on the competence of the professional referees in translating the rules of the game. It is apparent that despite the numerous measures and aid applied by FIFA on the field for the referees to make the right calls in matches, there are still many instances where the wrong calls prevail.
This calls for the development of a better training system to enhance the competence of the referees through the acquaintance with the relevant knowledge and sufficient skills in applying the knowledge. Since the referees cannot wait for different teams to play a match to gain the practical knowledge and skills in making the right calls, the virtual reality technology has been developed to facilitate the training sessions (New technology for improving FIFA refereeing, 2016).
Essentially, the virtual reality technology entails the development of games where the referees are required to make the right calls in different situations where players violate the rules of the game. The VR technology is associated with games that have progressive difficulty levels in referee decisions, which implies that the referees face challenges similar to the real games concerning decision-making.
One of the advantages of this technology is that it gives the referees a chance to deal with challenging situations in decision-making in the field, and they also provide the relevant knowledge about the rules of the game when the trainees make the wrong decision. This implies that the VR technology has the potential to limit the number of mistakes made by referees in real-life situations. Another benefit of the VR technology is that it can be configured to provide specific training objectives to the referees.
For instance, if the majority of the mistakes made by the referees involve foul-play in the goal box, the VR games can be designed to focus on similar foul-plays to sharpen the decision-making process of the referees (New technology for improving FIFA refereeing, 2016). The VR technology has the potential of developing highly professional referees with a low coefficient of wrong calls in the actual games.
The current training processes entail the provision of videos from past matches and challenging the referees to make the appropriate calls. While this approach has helped many referees to understand the interpretation process of soccer rules, it is inadequate because similar situations rarely occur in the playing field (Gulec & Yilmaz, 2016). However, using the VR technology, each simulation is different from the others, and this provides the referees with a higher chance of encountering similar challenges in the playing field.
Additionally, the VR technology is superior to the video replay training mode because it entails the development of first-hand experience for the referees. In video replay training, the referees have time to review the rules associated with the different situations, but in the VR technology, a virtual playing field situation is simulated, giving the referees the challenge to make quick decisions as if they are officiating an actual soccer match.
The live simulations enhance the sharpness of the minds of the referees to the required level in the actual matches. The VR technology, particularly sharpens the instincts of the referees concerning the rules of the game and their application in different situations. The VR technology is also effective in enhancing the experience of the referees in officiating soccer matches because the virtual setting is extremely close to the real matches; hence, the more frequent the training sessions, the higher are the competence and confidence levels of the referees (New technology for improving FIFA refereeing, 2016).
Another advantage of the VR technology over the video replay training mode is that the referees can easily acquire the VR technology headsets for individual training (Gulec & Yilmaz, 2016). While using the video replay training mode, the referees depend on their trainers for assessment and knowledge development, but the VR technology implements a computer based training session that facilitates individual training. This implies that the referees can train themselves whenever they are free. This would subsequently lead to a higher level of accuracy in decision-making for the referees who undertake regular training through the VR technology.
As FIFA looks to enhance the competence level of referees in soccer matches, it is apparent that the association needs to develop a new standard of training for the professional referees. The video replay training process is gradually becoming obsolete because it fails to enhance the knowledge and skills of the referees. However, the VR technology is a viable replacement for the video replay mode because it simulates soccer matches in a manner that will enhance the ability of the referees to gain knowledge on the rules of the games and skills to apply them in a playing field.
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Fitch, D. (2013). Soccer’s 20 Most Notorious Bad Referee Calls. Web.
Gulec, U., & Yilmaz, M. (2016). A serious game for improving the decision making skills and knowledge levels of Turkish football referees according to the laws of the game. SpringerPlus, 5(1), 1-10.
New technology for improving FIFA refereeing. (2016). Web.