What Were the Skies Like When You Were Young?

Being a patriotic Englishman, I naturally had on the ruddiest of red faces, and was spluttering aloud, when the successful World Cup bids were announced. Even as a semi-patriotic US based prole, I proudly called “fix!” upon learning the tiny nation of Qatar was to host the 2022 National Hand-wringing Spectacular. But, recent news has flipped a switch (of an admittedly low wattage bulb) and I am now eagerly anticipating the tournament. This is because an engineer in Qatar claims to have invented artificial, remote-controlled clouds, to ease the searing heat during matches. That’s remote-controlled clouds.

Now consider that FIFA only recently relented and is set to test goal-line technology next year, in part thanks to Frank Lampard’s incredible ‘ghost goal’ during last year’s World Cup1. It is an understatement to describe FIFA as ‘technology-shy’, but what if Qatar can act as a catalyst to introduce amazing new technology into football? What could that look like?

During the World Cup bidding process, there were a lot of very similar, jingoistic presentations attempting to sway the gobby and greedy of FIFA. Most of them descended into shouting “it’s not fair! It’s our turn!” or “We’ll be very careful to make you scandalously rich!” Taking a different tack however, Japan’s bid included the fantastical suggestion of broadcasting each game in 3D, onto full-scale pitches around the world, so fans could rock up to their local ground and watch life-size World Cup footy in front of their eyes. Brilliant! Equally ambitious was Qatar’s suggestion of air-conditioning just about everywhere from stadiums and training grounds, to outdoor fan zones. Although most journalists have scoffed, they represent two incredibly audacious ideas, at least one of which will likely see fruition by 2022. So, given the Qatari geeks have another eleven years, what else might they come up with?

One of the major concerns over Qatar is the unforgiving, hot summer weather. Temperate stadiums and fake cloud cover help, but in order to ensure players take on enough fluids Qatar funds should be channeled towards inventing Dune-style still suits. These body-hugging outfits can re-purpose body fluid excreted through the skin and feed it back to the player via a small tube near the mouth. They’re kind of like sweat leotards, with a CamelBak attachment. An added bonus is the more you run about, the more liquid fuel you accumulate. So, we could be treated to seeing John Terry begging Theo Walcott for a gob-full of his sweet nectar.

At the centre of the recent technology debate in football has been the use officials can make of new advances. Well boffins, don’t hold back for the boys and girls in black. Let’s make their job easier and give them all jet-packs. They’ll never get in the way of the ball again, or suffer the ignominy of trundling backwards as a troupe of angry players shout obscenities at them. Instead these omnipotent officials can just blast off ten feet into the air and dish out yellow cards with impunity! It could also spell the end of the ‘deliberately-slow-substitution’ designed to waste time, as the referee just swoops in and delivers them to the bench in seconds. Perfect!

And while we’re helping the refs, how about giving the assistants some 21st century toys? Rather than flipping around a flimsy square of nylon, they should be equipped with lightsabers to indicate an offside. Should an eager striker get too lippy about a call, a swift blast to the calf will see them right.

Finally, not forgetting about the fans, can we get hoverboards sorted? Failing that, I’ll settle for fully-automated travel pods delivering me straight to the air-conditioned, cloud-covered stadium door, just in time for an army of refreshment robots to pour me a pint.

The possibilities are endless, so what technological wonder would you like to see at World Cup Qatar?

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1 Note: don’t forget where you were when that happened, so you can relate it to your grandchildren someday, as they learn about it on wiki-youtube.

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