The World Cup Desperately Requires Innovation

Here is a quote from the FIFA spokesperson Nicolas Maingot responding to questions about the persistently horrible standard of refereeing at the World Cup:

Maingot also said FIFA was investigating why the giant video screen at the Soccer City ground showed a replay of the controversial Tevez opening goal in contravention of an understanding it had with the local organising committee.

“There was a controversial incident shown on the giant screens at Soccer City and this should not have happened,” he said.

“It is handled by the organising committee and last night was a clear mistake and this should not happen and we will have a closer look at that.”

So, to recap, the problem at the World Cup is not the egregious blown calls. The problem is showing replays of the egregious blown calls.

This is classic incumbent behaviour. FIFA is not only not innovative, they are actively resisting innovations that have been shown to work well in nearly every other major sport. Why should they worry? After all, football is the world’s game.

It’s not as though there is any other competition for our time and attention, right?

I’ve been watching football (soccer) since I was about 15 years old, and it has consistently been the most poorly officiated sport I’ve ever seen. This hasn’t hurt the sport over those 30 years I guess. But I’ve pretty well lost patience. Time to find some other ways to spend my time and attention.

Few others will follow my lead. Probably. For now.

On the other hand, newspapers managed to convince themselves for 15 years that the internet wouldn’t really have any impact on them, and US automobile manufacturers managed to ignore the threat from well-made economical cars built in Japan for 20 years.

When change comes, it comes quickly. If you fail to innovate to meet changes in the environment, change will hurt you. Even if you are huge, deeply embedded monopoly like FIFA.

Student and teacher of innovation - University of Queensland Business School - links to academic papers, twitter, and so on can be found here.

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10 thoughts on “The World Cup Desperately Requires Innovation

  1. I certainly share the sentiments Tim! Though I don’t think I’ll give up on football just yet. It’s still too good…unless Australian players are getting red cards… 😛

    World Series Cricket is a good example of how even a deeply embedded sporting monopoly can be shaken up by innovation (e.g. drop-in-pitch; new outfits; schedules, rules etc) and entrepreneurship (e.g. Packer, Cornell; Robertson; Richie). In this example exhibition matches were a key arena that provided the institutional flexibility to start playing with the established rules. If changes come to FIFA I wonder whether they’ll emerge from a similar field or somewhere more radical?

    As a counter example to football, I’d argue that Australian Rugby League (NRL) is one area that’s gone a bit overboard in its efforts to get “accurate” referring decisions. It’s ended up slowing the game down too much.

    Like most things in life It’s all about getting the balance right: FIFA and the NRL have some work to do!

  2. The NRL needs to start with getting a more interesting sport – no amount of innovation can make up for that problem!

  3. I suppose as the so called self-described “world game” Football (soccer) reseves the right not to use technology for a varied amount of reasons such as cultural (I can’t even imagine a referee using video technology in a South American qualifier where dubious refereeing decisions are quite the norm.). Also, there has always been a tendency to favour the bigger sides (Think back to France v Ireland and Tierry Henry’s handball goal..!!). Looking at it from an Australian perspective I can see how it is difficult to see how video technology would be useful, but it would be interesting to hear the opinion of South America, African and some other minor nation’s players, referees and general fans on how accepting they would be of video technology in the world cup considering that they may not have access to this technology at home. Are worldwide fans of “The World game” willing to accept these innovations in their beloved game? Viva Chile…!!

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