The role of artificial intelligence (AI) in football is expected to see significant growth in the coming years. Aldo Comi, CEO of Soccerment, a global football analytics firm, suggests that AI could potentially replace linesmen and human referees altogether within the next few decades. The increasing availability of high-quality data and advancements in computer vision technology are the driving forces behind this transformation.
With the abundance of data available, matches could be overseen entirely by AI systems, rendering human referees obsolete. Comi predicts that the effectiveness of computer vision will improve, and with more cameras on the pitch, AI models will be able to make refereeing decisions based on what they see. He believes that linesmen may be the first to disappear from the game, and ultimately, the referee could be replaced by AI.
The impact of AI in football goes beyond refereeing. Clubs like Brighton and Brentford have already utilized data analytics to challenge traditional power dynamics in the Premier League, discovering and acquiring talent that later leads to substantial profits. As data integration continues to grow, managers may rely on virtual assistants for assistance with lineups and game strategies. AI can analyze data to provide predictive analytics, offering insights on future events and making suggestions for improvement.
Comi emphasizes that building trust in AI technologies will be crucial. However, he notes that the efficacy of AI in football is already visible, with positive cases such as Brentford and Brighton showcasing the advantages it provides. While AI may not replace professionals entirely, it is expected to serve as high-quality support for decision-making in the sport.
The transformation of football through AI is anticipated to change the way the game is played and governed. As AI models become more sophisticated, they could be directly integrated into the decision-making processes of clubs and officiating bodies. Trust in AI’s capabilities will play a significant role in this evolution.