Amazon’s voice assistant will be there to lay down the law during forthcoming Premier League matches – just like VAR, but without its famous charm.
Amazon has announced that Alexa will now be able to answer questions about officiating during football matches, such as defining what constitutes a handball.
It’s a feature that Amazon calls VARlexa – presumably in order to positively associate it with another well-loved development to the game that is cherished by football fans the world over. (“Game’s gone”, mumbles Jimmy, aged 8).
The definitions will come courtesy on the International Football Associations Board, so there’s no quibbling with the authority of its answers. But much like the overbearing relative on Christmas day who dives for the rule book every time the die is rolled in Monopoly, it risks taking the fun out of slanging matches.
No longer will the last word be had by whoever shouts the loudest at the TV in the pub, or by whichever Sky Sports presenter gormlessly fills their phrases with the most cliches about “passion”.
Despite our ever-reliable cynicism, Amazon has got the stats to back up its new venture: according to a survey of 2,000 football fans undertaken by the company, 66% of fans agree that they do not fully understand the rules of football; 82% said they would enjoy the sport more if they knew the rules better, and 85% reckoned it would be an advantage to have instant and reliable access to the official rules during matches.
While such inquiries about the laws of the game are bound to come in handy, there remain a few more wide-ranging mysteries that we’d like see to cleared up once and for all. Here are the Premier League questions we wish Alexa could answer for us:
- Alexa, why do Manchester United get awarded a penalty every single match?
- Alexa, how come Man City’s attendance has improved so drastically over recent months?
- Alexa, why do Sheffield United still bother turning up to play matches?