FIBA Europe Gets Digital

26 May 2006

Little did former referee Miguel Betancor realise how an embarrassing mistake would turn into a unique opportunity.

It was the 1999 European Championship and France was taking on Yugoslavia in the bronze medal game.

Miguel Betancor
Miguel Betancor
Betancor was officiating the game and called a foul on Yugoslavian guard Dejan Bodiroga. The scorekeeper that day indicated that Bodiroga had picked up his fifth foul and was thus disqualified.

Yugoslavia argued that Bodiroga only had four fouls and a long debate followed.

A French assistant coach informed Betancor that his team statistics revealed that Yugoslavia’s complaint was valid and Bodiroga had only four fouls.

As a result, Bodiroga was able to stay in the game. He went to score 15 points and Yugoslavia won the game 74-62 to capture the bronze medal.

Had Bodiroga “fouled out” with four fouls, it is uncertain what the outcome of the game would have been.

Five years later, Betancor, now in his current position as FIBA Europe Referee Coordinator, came up with the idea for a digital scoresheet.

Digital Scoresheet
With the digital scoresheet, one can click on a statistic and see a video image.
Carried out in collaboration with Las Palmas Gran Canaria University, where Betancor is a professor, and with the backing of FIBA Europe, the digital scoresheet allows a person to click on any statistic that occurs during the game and instantaneously see a video image of the action.

Had Betancor been able to use the digital scoresheet in the 1999 European Championship bronze medal game, he would have been able to click on each of Bodiroga’s fouls and seen actual video images.

“It is very easy technology,” Betancor explained.

“All you need to do is plug in the software to a camera.”

The program has many other benefits.

“When there is a fight, it is very difficult to see what is happening since so much is taking place,” he said.

“With the digital scoresheet, a referee can watch video images to see what happens.”

The technology is not only useful for officials. Players and coaches can obviously use it to observe and analyse the various aspects of the game.

“We tested the software at Belgrade last year for EuroBasket and we will test it again this summer at our youth events,” Betancor said.

“We plan to fully implement the digital scoresheet next year at EuroBasket 2007 and begin offering it to national federations.”

In addition, FIBA Europe plans to launch a digital rule book to clarify basketball’s rules.

“It is one thing to read the rules, but interpreting the rule is another thing,” explained Betancor.

“With the digital rulebook, people can see video clips and photos to illustrate the interpretation.”

It is impossible to foresee the potential of such software. One thing certain is that referees may no longer have to count on the integrity of the opposition’s assistant coach to count the number of player fouls.




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