Calling World Cup Goals Before They Happen, By Polling a Betting Site

[Ben] made an interesting discovery during the FIFA World Cup in 2018, and used it to grant himself the power to call goals before they happened. Well, before they happened on live TV or live streaming, anyway. It was possible because of the broadcast delay on “live” broadcasts, combined with the sports betting industry’s need for timely and detailed game state tracking.

He discovered that a company named Running Ball provides fairly detailed game statistics in digital form, which are generated from inside the stadium as events occur. An obvious consumer of this data are sports betting services, and [Ben] found a UK betting site that exposed that information in full inside their web app. By polling this data, he measured a minimum of 4 seconds between an event (such as a goal) being reported in the data and the event occurring on live TV. The delay was much higher — up to minutes — for live streaming. [Ben] found it quite interesting to measure how the broadcast delay on otherwise “live” events could sometimes be quite significant.

Knowing broadcast delays exist is one thing, but it’s a neat trick to use it to predict goals before they occur on “live” television. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen evidence of [Ben]’s special interest in data and using it in unusual ways; he once set up a program to play Battleship over the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), making it very probably the first board game played over BGP.

Soccer Playing Robots Score on Human Goalie!

Soccer robot scores on humans

Did you know there’s a rather large community dedicated to making robots that can play soccer? Did you know they’re getting pretty good?

RoboCup is an international robotics competition held annually, first founded in 1997. The goal first and foremost is to promote robotics and AI research — and to do so, they decided to make the competition something that is publicly appealing — Why not one of the most popular sports around? The official goal of the project is to have a team of autonomous humanoid based robot players beat the most recent winning team of the World Cup, complying with the official rules of FIFA. This year, the RoboCup coincided with the real World Cup, and was hosted in Brazil.

There are several categories in RoboCup with various types of robots, and the mid-size team did pretty well this year.

Arguably, this is the most exciting game of all, because it gives a sense of what the current state-of-the-art in robotic soccer is, and how it stacks up to a team of moderately talented squishy bipeds.

We guess that’s a nice way of saying “non-professional soccer players”. Regardless though, they SCORED!

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