2010 World Cup Memories Will Be More Than Just Football

To use the immortal words of BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme describing the end of the Final at the 1966 World Cup, they think it’s all over; it is now. The 2010 FIFA World Cup culminated July 11, with Spain beating the Netherlands 1-0 to become champion for the first time. But more than the football, the tournament will be remembered for refereeing howlers, spurring fresh calls for goal-line technology; 3D transmission; the drone of the vuvuzela; and a psychic octopus called Paul, which predicted the eventual winner.

Jerome Valcke, general secretary of football’s governing body, FIFA, told the BBC that this World Cup will be the last to be staged under current rules. The implication is that there will be some change in how matches are officiated, a move the organisation has been forced into after major errors by referees. These included a goal by England’s being disallowed during the game with Germany, even though TV replays showed the ball crossing the line.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter later apologised and said goal-line technology is “back on the agenda.” Valcke did not commit himself on how the rules will be changed. There is still an anti-video bias on the International Football Association Board (IFAB), so two additional referees by the goal could be used instead of implementing the Cairos microchip-and-sensor method or the Hawk-Eye graphics analysis system.

Valcke commented that replays showing that Frank Lampard had scored a goal against Germany were a “bad day” for World Cup organisers. “We’re talking about a goal not seen by the referee, which is why we are talking about new technology,” he said. “Let’s see if this [technology] system will help or whether giving the referee an additional four eyes will give him the comfort and make duty easier to perform.”

The controversy has overshadowed the fact that this was the first 3D World Cup. Sony teamed up with FIFA and host broadcaster HBS to transmit 25 matches in stereoscope. As well as the live action, the tournament was opened with a 3D video by singer Shakira, which was postproduced at STEELE studios’ Culver City, CA, facility on a Quantel Pablo 4k workstation.

There was plenty of other technology on show in South Africa. In addition to what SVG has already reported, Pixel Power supplied four Clarity 5000 systems to the South African Broadcasting Corp. (SABC). The graphics technology was used on five SABC programmes a day during the World Cup and will move on to more-general programming in the future.

A new HD-capable digital satellite newsgathering vehicle built by Megahertz in the UK was used by AP Television News for covering news during the tournament. The unit houses a Harris Panacea router, a For-A HD vision mixer, and a Soundcraft audio console.

But the 2010 World Cup will be remembered for the vuvuzela, the South African horn that provided a constant background noise not just to the matches but to interviews held away from the soundproof confines of a studio.

The novelty and authenticity of this feature of South African football soon palled. Commentators and viewers were united in their loathing for the instrument, which buzzed away continuously during games.

The BBC looked into providing vuvuzela-free coverage on its Red Button service by using notch filters on the audio tracks. This plan was criticised by Trevor Cox, president of the Institute of Acoustics and professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford, who said that the technique would affect the commentary by cutting out some vowel sounds.

This pronouncement overlooked the fact that HBS provides clean feeds of crowd effects from the stadium for both television and radio and they could be filtered independently without affecting the commentator’s voice.

BBC Radio Five Live used this approach, but the vuvuzela was not completely erased from its broadcasts. Michael Carr, the channel’s sport editor, told Radio 4’s listeners’ forum programme Feedback that the horn “apparently” produced the note B flat, so this was being notched out of the effects provided by HBS to minimise the drone.

A listener to Feedback responded that the vuvuzela in fact produces a quarter tone between B flat and B natural so the filtering system was misaligned and not cancelling out the irritation at all.

All very esoteric and very English, of course, but it did distract local fans from England’s being knocked out after the group stages. A far cry from 1966, when England won the World Cup, inspiring that famous phrase by Wolstenholme and setting the bar far too high for subsequent national teams.

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