Football World Cups have always been marred with refereeing errors,but teams travelling to Qatar for the 2022 tournament may suffer even more such blunders,as scientists have found that referees make more mistakes under extreme heat.
The findings will add to the already deafening criticism of FIFA’s decision to stage the sporting event in a country where summer temperatures average 40 degrees Celsius.
Although organisers hope to get around the problem by air conditioning the state-of-the-art stadiums being constructed for the occasion,the Bedfordshire University scientists claim even that extreme measure may not be enough.
The stadiums are still going to be open-air. There is a concern that even though they are air-conditioned the temperature on the pitch during games will still be around 30 degrees, Prof John Brewer,who led the study,said.
For their study,Prof Brewer and his team put two groups of participants through a 90-minute exercise routine in an environmental chamber,during which they had to make a series of judgements simulating their role in a real match.
When the exercise was carried out in 30 degree heat,the referees’ physical and decision making performance declined,with an average of 20 to 25 per cent more wrong decisions than in normal temperatures as their heart rate rose and they became more tired.
Conversely goal line officials,who stand behind the goal during UEFA European games,performed 20 per cent worse in sub-zero temperatures similar to those seen during winter Champions and Europa League games in northern countries,with some coming close to hypothermia.
The findings,presented to European governing body UEFA in Geneva recently,have serious implications for referees and goal line officials who are officiating in challenging climatic conditions,Prof Brewer said.
We need to look at ways to help them cope with the conditions that they will face. It could be argued that this even lends further weight to the argument in favour of goal line technology in important matches.
Ensuring referees cool down and rehydrate before matches and during half time could lower error rates,he suggested.