Football in 2020 - robot refs and gene therapy!

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According to The Orange Future of Football Report 2008 - which is a collection of predictions from experts who examined how the sport will develop in coming decades - the following can be expected:

  • Robotic officials and sensors on players will eradicate wrong decisions
  • Advances in sports science and genetics will push players to new performance levels and recovery
  • Kit will use nanotechnology – releasing nutrients to replace minerals, kill germs and heal minor injuries
  • Shirt sponsor logos will change during the game
  • Vast amounts of real-time data will help managers make informed tactical decisions
  • Matches will never be postponed because pitches will be artificial and stadiums will use cloud seeding to create their own microclimates
  • TV viewers will watch 360 degree personalised images
  • Video games will be rendered versions of actual matches so users can play out real scenarios

"Enhancement through gene therapy is almost inevitable," Dave Reddin, a sports consultant and the former fitness coach of the England rugby team, said. "Our bodies have a buffer zone we operate within but you hear of superhuman efforts in extraordinary circumstances. There is untapped potential in the human body."

Rather than spending millions on transfers, will Manchester United invest in genetics in a bid to produce the best players? Forget old men in sheepskin coats – scouts of the future will wear lab coats. Physical and psychological assessments of players are common now; in the future, genetic profiling will assess athletic potential and injury risk.

"Beyond the next 20 years, we could even see the concept of breeding athletes," Reddin said.

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