Soccer World Cup 2006 is a benchmark not just for its size

The entire world is savoring the world’s biggest sports spectacle – The FIFA World cup 2006 is blowing away attendance records with 3 million attendees, additional 12 million in public viewing areas in the major host cities, billions of people watching on TV. Contrast this with the Super Bowl, the biggest event in the USA which attracts about 100MM viewers. If that is not enough to make your head spin, consider the security ramifications. One incident could create devastating damage.  To tackle this, the world cup organizers have tapped several recent technological advances to make the world cup a dramatically more secure event: 1. Personal identification is mandatory in the stadiums and is coded into an RFID tag in each one of the 3.2 million tickets.
2. When the spectator passes the entrance gates, the identity as coded in the RFID tag is checked against the database.
3. Once inside the stadium, the seat location is sensed using the same RFID tag. If someone makes trouble, his/her location can be instantly determined.
4. The stadiums are equipped with advanced video surveillance systems which are capable of zooming in and reading even the brochure in the spectator’s hand.
5. Security personnel are equipped with fast fingerprint scanners to instantly check a troublemaker’s print against police databases. the list goes on
(Via IEEE Spectrum)


  1. Anonymous said June 22, 2006, 9:18 pm:

    I’m beginning to trace the history of soccer – And read some where that, Traditionally(many centuries ago), people started this game using “skulls” (human & animals), gradually moved into turning the skull into round shape, later started adding wrapping the skins of animals to get better control on the game & for legs and eventually moved towards a leather football. Is this really true? Do you have any insights around it?

    When I had some question around why soccer is not popular in india despite being a very affordable sport (just involves ball cost)? I was informed about a myth in india about ancesters believing that more a kid/teenager plays soccer his growth (more specifically physical height) was in jeopardy — Muscles below knees becomes extremely strong and can pull down the growth… Is this true? Any ideas??

  2. Anonymous said June 23, 2006, 12:23 am:

    Raghuram Karthik,

    Interesting question. I haven’t heard the particular story you mention. I have heard that the Mayans played a similar game and at the end of the game, the loser’s head was cut off as a sacrifice. I am guessing this might have given rise to the story you are referring to.

    As for why soccer is not popular in India – i think its just plain

    herd mentality. As a child (including me, when i was a child), you see everyone play cricket and you do the same. Cricket has far too much mindshare and unless we take special steps to encourage other sports, i don’t think any other sport will become popular and that is very very sad. When you see that small nations like Togo and Ivory Coast are sending teams to the world cup, and India with a 1B+ population cannot field a team, it makes you feel even worse.

  3. Anonymous said June 23, 2006, 10:22 pm:

    One silly imagination, what if we had two products in the market play football or play cricket.

    They were both introduced roughly the same time to us,

    Football is supposed to be game for masses where each team could have more than 11 players (earlier) vs cricket, gentleman’s game means lesser market..

    Football has lesser rules, no new learning, means barrier to entry,

    Football has lesser things to carry around, means more effort

    Football is lot shorter means less time to spare yet cricket is popular, leads to think there should be something more fundamental than he(a)rd mentality. Read on..

    Let’s analyze a little on different facets and scratch the surface,

    First, What does it expend to play football ?

    As kartik mentioned, monetarily it is only a ball but needs more space to play. Remember the alleys, hell I used to play cricket between the stairs, every passerby asking us the score. Played with a roll of paper sitting in the last bench with bat as either hand or that homework infested notebook from where we got the paper in the first place.

    Second, What does it ‘take’ to play football ?

    Skill set, what does it take to play the game, football needs niche capabilities like run , run faster, run fastest and of course all that skill with feet, definitely not for everyone and requires a minimum fitness. It took me a long while to understand that football needs great reflex and managing a long pass is as difficult a skill as darting on bulls eye. Contrast that with cricket, even a handicap polio affected child can bat, spin or keep wickets in other words contribute. Nutshell, intrinsically cricket is for wider audience. Cricket is multifaceted game where everybody can part take and football requires us to have some minimum eligibility.

    Third, What does it ‘give’ to play football ?

    Incentive nature, what keeps it going, what is the factor, foot ball: you pass & pass again & pass again and then loose the ball, come back do it again, not cynical, the kick 🙂 of football is in the structure and team work and can’t be appreciated evidently, contrast that with cricket or NFL every move/ball has some ephemeral thrill to offer, why bother I love book cricket…can you lick it.

    Fourth, What does it ‘motivate’ to play cricket ?

    Emotionally, dissecting both the games you can easily see that football (except for the maradonas, remember ’86 against England) is by and large a true team work, no single handedness, flip side is that there are no self gratification. Compare that to cricket, a nice catch, nice shot, nice ball, even a nice dunk on bouncer contribute to emotional engine and keeps players individually motivated…kind of feed back circuit.

    Last not least awareness & media, cricket is more relaxed, slow paced, structured game( ball is bowled,ball is hit, ball is caught), in the sense that it is very convenient to telecast a game and easily dramatize the game’s ‘ah’ effects, clearly bringing out what it takes to square cut or field, diving on wrong side. Cricket is discontinuous and a composition of one simple act performed over and over again ( throw a ball. done. throw another ball) hence more predictable for cameras to be placed whereas football is continuous. It is simply impossible or at least for now, to determine the best view point for the next pass, if predicted, kills the charm of the game.You can potentially miss the only goal of the match by watching the replay of a nice pass or skillful maneuver and from then on watch the goal in replay. Technology isn’t there for football that can project both, player’s perspective and a perspective as somebody peeking over the players shoulder on the go.

    He(a)rd mentality, partly true but not without good reasons.

  4. Anonymous said June 24, 2006, 11:17 am:

    Interesting perspective Rajani. Not sure football fans will agree. You have hit on some aspects of what is generally known in Performance Management as Positive Reinforcement. I am actually reading a superb book on that subject. Hope to write a review of it shortly.

  5. Anonymous said June 26, 2006, 10:49 pm:

    Moral of the story: football is a very demanding, action packed game for elites in fitness & foot skills making it nice to watch but cricket is not so demanding, simple, anybody’s game, if that sells(for football fans). Yes, there is one truth and multiple perspectives, either ways :).

    Original question ‘Why is football not popular’ and its counter that cricket has stolen lime light has brought out some facts that reasons both questions.We can ponder more.. why are ‘East Bengal Club’ and ‘Mohun Bagan AC’ not world class, why is there no awareness of football; when, in 1888 kolkatta formed football association? Why is there no incentive to playing football as career? (that apparently leads to popularity …recognition stuff).

    Popularity as measured by viewership and popularity as measured from adoption are two different things with overlap, I guess later can drive the former and hence the reasons.

    I like the classification ‘positive reinforcement’; is abstract, covers wide and could be root caused to motivation theory at micro level. Will wait for the posting on review, should be interesting.

  6. Anonymous said July 13, 2006, 5:29 am:

    Was just wondering if these RFID tags can be used to enrich the collective gaming experience of both live as well TV audience. This Dodgeball-ish experience may well be part of London 2012!

  7. Anonymous said July 13, 2006, 7:43 am:

    Very interesting idea Kesava. You should write a detailed post on this. I am told that there are location-enabled cell phone based applications in the US where you can order stuff up from your seat and it will be delivered right to your seat.

  8. Anonymous said September 8, 2006, 3:06 am:

    I got a chance to learn about RFID deployment in the FIFA world cup from a PhD candidate researching on RFID issues here in Berkeley. He tells me that RFID thing was a major fiasco as some of the basic affordances were not taken care off. The tickets were long enough that they needed to be folded in half to be put in wallets. Ironically, the chips were put in the center of tickets thus making them disfunctional when they were folded. Further, there were not enough organizational processes that were designed for seamless integration of RFID technology with the usual event management. So the lesson to be learnt? Its not always about technology, infact its mostly not about technology.

  9. Anonymous said September 8, 2006, 3:28 am:

    Interesting update Kesava. Would your friend mind writing a guest post on this blog on this topic? You are right, its mostly not about technology. Another adage that came to my mind is – reality often falls way short of the hype as in this case.