8 ways technology has ruined football
Today marks a key staging post in the build up to the 2018 World Cup: the release of the official Panini sticker album.
It's an exciting time for collectors, children, plus their parents looking to have an excuse to compile stickers. There's the smell of the album, the feeling of ripping open your first park, the disappointment at getting your first double, the giddiness of coming across a much-prized player, the deflation of a Joe Hart.
There has been much consternation of the 30p price rise for a pack of stickers from the 2014 World Cup. But more concerning is Panini, vestiges of nostalgia, embracing technology with their first-ever digital sticker album.
The terms 'Panini Digital Sticker Album app', 'digital stickers' and 'digital collector's groups' should make all collectors shudder.
It is another example of technology's tentacles penetrating all levels of football.
The digital sticker album
Rothmans/Sky Sports Football Yearbook
The release of the Panini sticker album followed closely on the heels of the news that the revered Rothmans Football Yearbook could cease to exist. Sky Sports, who took over the sponsorship of the almanac in 2003, feel they can no longer justify spending £30,000-a-year on the tome.
It is regarded as the football bible. Packed with stats and facts, it provided football fans, commentators, manager and anoraks with all the information required. However, with the multitude of information available on the internet it is now, unfortunately, less relevant.
Looking back it was such a simple resource but it was glorious and is still cherished. Jump onto Ceefax, type in 3-0-2 and the world is your oyster. Transfers, team news, tables and, of course, the scores.
There were few more thrilling moments than heading to the goals page on a Saturday afternoon and waiting for the page to turn to your team. The anticipation, the excitement and, more often than not the disappointment.
It got ultra-serious as the clock ticked towards 16.45. Your team was either holding onto a lead, chasing a winner or searching for a leveller. Refresh, refresh, refresh. Gossebumps thinking about it.
Remember the days when you used to go to football and everyone was actually watching the football. Not on their phones checking their coupon, not scrolling through social media and certainly not taking pictures of a nondescript full-back taking throw-ins?
It is perhaps no more relevant than celebrating a goal. Rather than just enjoying the moment and letting loose, forgetting about everything and everyone for a few seconds, fans are reaching for their phones to film something which should just be about 'being in the moment'.
The introduction of VAR has been controversial but will be used at the World Cup. Picture: Shutterstock
Three letters which provoke an outpouring of feeling. Usually incredulity and expletives. Football has finally bit the bullet and allowed video technology on various levels of the game, including the upcoming World Cup.
All fans could accept goalline technology. But the introduction of VAR has been far more controversial. Many, but not all, fans, players, managers and pundits have been put off by the time it takes to review footage and the uncertainty regarding when and how it is used.
The World Cup will likely be crucial in determining its future in football and whether there is a significant backlash.
Season ticket books
A lot of football fans will still have the joy of being given a season ticket book at the start of the new campaign. It's clean, it's gleaming and is packed with vouchers ready to grant passage to a season of entertainment and adventure. As the season progresses each voucher is ripped out with an increasing indifference until the empty book is chucked onto the pitch after final game of the season as part of a futile protest at the rubbish served up.
There are others who won't get that opportunity. All they have now is a card. Scan and enter. Scan and enter. Convenient? Yes. Modern? Yes. Sensible? Yes. But it's just not the same.
Pro Evo Master League
Ivarov, Jaric, Dodo, Espimas, Ximelez, Ordaz. Legends in their own right for a generation of football fans. They were the spine of the Master League side on Pro Evolution Soccer, editions 5 to 2011. It was a constant struggle to evolve the team and progress through the leagues. It was a journey.
Now it is FUT - FIFA Ultimate Team. You are given a starter park and there is an element of grind to the progress. However, there is another way. You can simply pay for more packs to try and better your side, replicating the real world of football, causing players to waste money on a team in a game.
"Look away now". It was the warning to all football fans who were tuned into the news before Match of the Day came on on a Saturday night. The warning is all but redundant now. Smartphones make it so easy to follow all games, no matter where in the world.
It has got to the point where it is extremely difficult to avoid the results before Match of the Day is shown after 10pm.
Tribalism, reactionary views and an inability to be impartial. The internet, through forums, and social media has heightened these aspects of football fandom. It has taken out the middle ground.
With the spectre of social media and people filming everything and anything football players have to be guarded as to what they do and say. Any mistake can cost them a contract or a move, or as Jamie Carragher has found out possibly even a job. And then fans moan when footballers aren't themselves.