UK: The Sport Lawyer - How Far Can Technology In Sport Go?

Last Updated: 10 August 2011
Article by Ashley Wootton

The debate surrounding the merits of the use of technology in sport is never far away. Last week FIFA announced that a decision as to whether professional football can use goal line technology will be made in March 2012 with a view to using it at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Premier League commented that it would adopt such technology as soon as it is given approval by the governing body, possibly ready in time for the 2012/2013 season.

This amazing change in attitude at the top of FIFA has been brought about following increased calls for greater use of technology after several high profile goal line errors, notably Frank Lampard's goal that never was at the 2010 World Cup which lead to an apology from Sepp Blatter and a promise to reopen the debate about future technology use. FIFA's original argument that advancements in technology would both slow down the game and only be available at the top end of the industry now hold much less weight following the adoption of review systems in many of the top professional sports. Arsenal had hoped to pioneer goal line technology at their recent Emirates Cup pre-season tournament; however FIFA refused to allow this while a decision has yet to be formally announced.

How far can technology in sport go? And is advancement in technology good for sport? Not only does this question cover the controversial issue of video replays and goal line technology in football, cricket, tennis and rugby, but also the improvement of the equipment used from tennis rackets to swimming costumes. Would Bjorn Borg have gone on to even greater feats if he had the chance to use Rafael Nadal's racket of today; the AeroPro Drive GT with Graphite Tungsten Technology and the headsize covering 100 square inches? Arguably yes, but so would those who he competed against, therefore suggestions that technology in sport is making sport easier are short of the mark.

Technology in sport

While improvements in the material and quality of sporting equipment has undoubtedly helped modern day athletes reach even higher peaks, not all improvements have been regarded as a success. The Olympic motto: 'Citius Altius Fortius' (Faster, Higher, Stronger) can be seen as being achieved through technological advancements, however the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other governing bodies have made clear that it will not allow all advancements at the expense of raw athletic ability. Obviously anti-doping regulations are in force to prevent performance enhancing drugs giving athletes a clear advantage over one another, and those who have been caught out by these drug tests have rightfully been shamed by their sport. However, greater understanding of dietary requirements and nutrition have greatly aided modern athletes to become fitter than their past equivalents.

The athletics governing body went further in originally not allowing Oscar Pistorious to compete in the "regular" athletics competitions due to the extra advantage gained through his prosthetic legs in conserving energy levels. Pistorious successfully challenged this approach in the Court of Arbitration and Lord Coe stated "He is eligible...and we will welcome him" after he achieved the required qualifying time for the 400m event at London 2012.

Swimming's governing body banned the use of performance-enhancing, non-textile swimsuits in January 2010 after 29 world records were set in 5 days at the World Championships in Rome in 2009. Not all advancements have proven beneficial to the world of sport. Adidas' Jubulani ball which was used at the 2010 world cup was widely criticised as having a detrimental effect on the game, despite being championed for its top of the range spherical appearance.

Video technology

Video technology and referral systems have become widely used in professional sports during the past twenty years. America in particular has embraced technology as a referral point on controversial issues such as boundary calls in major league baseball, buzzer beaters in Basketball and contentious decisions in American Football. Tennis has implemented the hawk-eye system, originally used as an aide for commentators which now allows players to make three challenges per set. Cricket too has adopted a similar system of challenges using the "third umpire". Cricket has yet to universally adopt all technology aides, such as Snicko, however India's recent endorsement of the review system, save for that against LBW decisions, could lead the way to further implementation. FIFA has long argued that football is too fast to interrupt with television replays. This argument has lost credibility as other high paced professional sports such as Rugby have the ability to refer and judge a decision in 30 seconds and the use of goal line technology is said to produce a decision almost instantaneously.

Fans and clubs alike have been increasing calls for FIFA to move with the times and follow other sports by adopting at least some method of review system. With the money involved in football, clubs argue, including notably last season Blackpool's Ian Holloway, that one bad call can lead to a missed promotion or relegation, and the financial pain that comes with that can be catastrophic to a club as a business.


Both video technology and technological advancement through engineering methods have both contributed greatly to the modern world of sport. While not universally accepted, video replays are becoming more and more widely used and are adding to the atmosphere and pantomime of sports such as cricket and tennis. Whether football will embrace this technology remains to be seen, although FIFA's latest announcement suggests that we are closer than ever to this at least. Advancements in other sporting equipment has helped modern athletes surpass records and achievements of athletic heroes of the past; however that should not take away the achievement from today's athletes. The sporting industry has clearly stated that performance enhancing drugs are not acceptable, but a healthy diet and nutrition is encouraged to increase individual performance. Sporting equipment will continue to improve and help players like Rafael Nadal achieve blistering pace and top-spin, until the next generation of top athletes and new technology come to surpass them.

The advancement in new technology is also good for business. Greater competition can lead to greater development of goods and ideas. Protection of the intellectual property of these ideas, designs and creations is essential to ensure that years of research and development result in a profit for the designer. Big sporting brands will be keen to associate themselves with products that are publicised and credited with an improvement in sport. The ICC has allowed companies the opportunity to sponsor the decision review system board which in turn leads to great publicity at the venue and on television. The money generated from such sponsorship is then reinvested in cricket boards that do not have the financial capability to implement their own technology system. This way, the sponsor of the new technology not only gains credit for being associated with the advancement in sporting technology, but also by adhering to their corporate and social responsibility by investing in sporting groups with less financial power.

The contents of this brochure are intended as guidelines for clients and other readers. It is not a substitute for considered advice on specific issues. Consequently, we cannot accept any responsibility for this information or for any errors or omissions.

Thomas Eggar LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales under registered number OC326278 whose registered office is at The Corn Exchange, Baffin's Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1GE (VAT number 991259583). The word 'partner' refers to a member of the LLP, or an employee or consultant with equivalent standing and qualifications. A list of the members of the LLP is displayed at the above address, together with a list of those non-members who are designated as partners. Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Lexcel and Investors in People accredited.

Thomas Eggar LLP is not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity which is broadly the advising on, selling and administering of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints and redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website. We can also provide certain further limited investment services to clients if those services are incidental to the professional services we have been engaged to provide as solicitors.

Thesis Asset Management plc, our associated financial services company, provides a comprehensive range of investment services and advice. Thesis is owned by members of Thomas Eggar LLP but is independent of and separate to it. No lawyer connected with Thomas Eggar LLP provides services through Thesis as a practicing lawyer regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Thesis is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. Thesis has its own framework of investor protection and professional indemnity cover but Thesis clients do not enjoy the statutory protection of solicitors' clients.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.