Japan is regarded as a long shot to win the 2022 World Cup bid, in part because they were joint hosts with South Korea (another 2022 bidder) only eight years ago. If FIFA can be swayed by promises of advanced technology, however, they're chances might be better than conventional wisdom believes.

That's because Japan has audacious plans for groundbreaking technology as part of their bid, technology that could fundamentally change the way soccer matches are watched around the world.

Laid out by David Owen at Inside World Football, the "Full Court 3D Vision" system conceivably allows for 3D images of remote games to be projected from a screen lying on the ground. Imagine sitting in a stadium, as you would for any game, and watching a match from half a world away as if it's happening in front of you.

From Japans's bid book:

  • The 200 x 8K high-definition cameras will capture a bird’s-eye view of the pitch, and the action on the pitch will be recreated by projecting the images on huge glasses-free flatbed 3D displays.
  • The 3D images that protrude from the flatbed screen will be able to be viewed from any direction without the use of special spectacles.
  • This technology, mainly provided for use at the Fan Fest sites, will dramatically change the public viewing experience — viewers will be overwhelmed by the realistic 3D images of players running on the giant display of the Full Court 3D Vision.

How close Japan is to actually making this technology a reality isn't clear from Owen's column, and with twelve years to work on it, perhaps it's only concept at the moment. One must also wonder how quickly development would move should Japan not get the bid, or if the project would be abandoned. But if it does proceed and is successfully implemented, it could have a wide-ranging impact on the way fans watch the game. If World Cup matches can be broadcast in stadiums around the world, with an accompanying Fan Fest as proposed in Japan's bid, does it really matter where the tournament is actually held?

That's Owen's thought, anyway.

More interesting to me is how such technology might affect the flavor of soccer we consume in a stadium setting and how we consume it outside of the World Cup. Forget a 39th game in the United States - the Premier League could simply beam their signal to any number of American stadiums and reap the financial rewards.

Suspending disbelief that the technology is even possible, much less conceiving of a situation where fans would willingly pay for stadium tickets to watch 3D images of remote match, is rather difficult. It would be easy to dismiss the concept as science fiction. But as technology changes - the ability to see as much soccer as we do via TV and the Internet would have seemed fantasy fifteen years ago - so will the way we enjoy the game.
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