It’s not technically its debut, as it was tried out at the Arab Cup in 2021 and has had a couple of other run-outs, too. But many fans will be getting their first look at it in Wednesday’s UEFA Super Cup, contested by Champions League winners Real Madrid and Europa League holders Eintracht Frankfurt. I’m talking about the electronic supersystem that will be used to determine unequivocally whether a player is offside or not. Twelve cameras inside the stadium will be tracking the ball and 29 reference points on each player, updating their information 50 times per second. And an ‘internal measurement unit’ in the ball will be sending back data 500 times per second, so that we can know the exact instant in which it was kicked.
IFAB’s meddling undermines technological advances
Nary an offside will get through all that, I can only suppose. Such overkill is to be welcomed; the shame, though, is that this new technology is accompanied by further fiddling with the laws of the game. At their annual meeting, Spain’s referees were told that match officials should no longer give goals such as Kylian Mbappé's against La Roja - when the France striker, who was ahead of the final defender, was deemed onside after latching on to Eric García’s attempted clearance. IFAB chief David Elleray’s fixation with meddling with rules that were already pretty clear makes a mockery of all these technological endeavours that target flawless refereeing. That’s wishful thinking, anyway, but it certainly can’t be achieved if we keep chopping and changing on delicate issues such as handball and offside.
Super Cup is one to look forward to
All that aside, Wednesday’s game is an attractive prospect, as a Madrid side brimming with optimism look to kick off the European season with yet another trophy and, in the process, curb the euphoria at Barcelona, who certainly impressed in the Trofeo Gamper - albeit against accommodating opposition. Barça are on tenterhooks because (tick, tock) they still have work to do to persuade LaLiga to register all of their numerous summer recruits. Madrid have had a peaceful preseason. With the odd well-chosen signing coming in, their sights have been set on opening up with silverware against a Frankfurt team that will have many more fans in Helsinki - 10,000 to 1,800. Madrid won’t be as heavily outnumbered as Barça were at the Camp Nou, at least.