One reason the game of soccer is so popular just about everywhere is that it requires no equipment beyond a ball and some improvised goal posts. But come next year, when the U.S. hosts its first World Cup tournament, the game will receive an infusion of the latest in digital technology.
The tournament's games are to be played at stadiums across the country. With equipment, software, and services from such companies as Electronic Data Systems, Sybase, Sun Microsystems, and GTE Sprint, all venues will be connected by an interactive video-and-data network. With some 1,000 desktop workstations, the network's main function will be to help administer the games and maintain tight security. Security officials at any stadium will be able to check photo ID badges against a centralized file of digitized images, for instance. But the net will also deliver statistics and other information on teams, players, and soccer in general to an expected 15,000 members of the press.