An outward look at other sports for improvements

          What can football learn from… Formula One

          2020/03/25 00:00
          By Connor Andrews

          In being the world’s biggest sport, football can often be a little self-obsessed, and just being a world leader doesn’t always guarantee continued success.

          Take VAR for instance, while other sports have learned the pitfalls and intricacies of video technology before, football went in blind, and is in the midst of a minor crisis.

          So Playmaker's taken the initiative to look at other sports to see who’s doing what, how it’s different, and if there’s anything for us to learn...

          -Team principles

          ©Getty / Mark Thompson

          While a modern football manager’s role is far more all-encompassing than old fashioned coaches who were handed a team to get the best out of, a Formula One team principal's job is far closer to that of a technical director.

          The thing is, not every football team has a labelled director, and the ones do, we never hear from. F1 team principals keep transparency open from the very top down, ensuring fans are rarely left out of the loop when it comes to finances, rule changes and future decisions.

          Managers like Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola prove to be the most important people at football clubs, but hearing from those working above them on a regular basis could well be the necessary communication that ensures clubs in trouble are held to account, meaning future decisions may be for the benefit of the sport, and not individual clubs.

          -Team radio

          ©Getty / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC

          An insight into team radio has been incredibly necessary in detecting any tactical foul play between team and driver, but opening it up to the fans has brought the entertainment value to a whole new level.

          Celebrations, hissy fits, and tactical switches are all part of the in action fun for F1 fans, but in football we can’t even lip read anymore as players get smarter, continually covering their mouths while communicating.

          Could a mic'd-up referee or fourth official be a welcome addition to TV viewers who are constantly paying more for the same product? Or would the outrage culture in football mean it wouldn’t take long for chaos to envelope?

          -On board cameras

          ©Getty /

          Much like the idea of microphones, referees could well be the best vehicle for getting fans into the game.

          On board car cameras in motorsport are used just as much as those outside, giving such a crucial insight into race action that it’s probably taken for granted how different the race experience would be without them.

          While no one would be stupid enough to suggest cameras on players, we’ve all seen fivaside highlights with the man in the middle strapped up with a GoPro on their chest, could Soccer Aid and testimonials next, then professional games?

          -Multiple events in one

          ©Getty / Dan Istitene

          Motorsport is unarguably middle-class and lacking in diversity, and that is reflected in the extortionate ticket pricing making the idea of a British Grand Prix race day for some fans maybe a one-off experience.

          And although a race weekend can cost into the thousands, there is extra entertainment on the bill with support races and practice sessions.

          We’ve seen Premier League stadium expansions are often tailored towards corporates or tourists, and for those who may travel miles from abroad to end up with a drab 0-0, adding youth or women’s games to the bill could well prove value, and circulate interest back into leagues that are struggling.

          -Consistency in rules

          ©Getty / Vladimir Rys
          Old men making calls in a small room is far from new for F1 fans, as stewards offices have been around for years, but the VAR era has only just begun in football, and it’s got off to a torrid start.

          There’s a multitude of issues that make the system seem untenable, but Formula One found it quickly and didn’t learn from it, and now football is discovering it and can’t make the same mistake.

          And that issue is consistency, without it, any calls involving subjectivity render the system completely pointless. There’s zero reason to waste time checking back and altering the outcome of a game if the same situation is going to be handled differently a week later.

          F1 puts an ex-pro in the box alongside stewards which could get very messy in football, but when it comes to general rule making, it might not be such a bad idea. How often do you hear a retired footballer agree with a handball decision for example? Yet that rule continues to spiral out of control. 

          -Worldwide outlook

          ©Getty / AFP Contributor

          Say the words ‘thirty ninth game’ and any football fan’s skin will crawl. And while the idea itself may be terrible, and the general money chasing abroad is certainly detrimental to the Premier League itself, there’s a certain snobbery that exists in football towards fans outside the continent that doesn’t exist in Formula One.

          Of course match going fans make football what it is, but the near 3 billion people in India and China make the sport far and away the biggest in the world.

          While games abroad should obviously just be limited to pre-season, a general shift in mentality in a globalised sport could go a long way, as the appreciation of some of the world’s most passionate fans in countries like Japan during race weekends, is replaced with turned up noses in football. 

          -Over sponsorship

          ©Getty / Marco Canoniero

          Motorsport colouring tends to come as part of a team’s nationality, British Racing Green, Mercedes German Silver Arrows, Bleu de France. But unfortunately for traditionalists, the sport lives and dies solely on sponsorship, which has become a key part of it’s identity. 

          We’ve seen the largely positive impact of Red Bull on F1, and now we’re seeing their dark side in football with Leipzig and Salzburg, although it’s not just those sides that are getting taken over by advertisements.

          Premier League teams are now offering shoulder patch sponsorship on top of shirt and training gear sponsors, and the shoulders in particular feel like the start of a very slippery slope.

          Formula One cars are now entirely dictated by title sponsors with un-historic colour schemes hardly visible through engulfing advertisements. Football needs to draw a red line soon or risk the most legendary kits losing their soul.


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