Drones Film the Massive World Cup Victory Celebration in Argentina
There’s the main event – and the party afterward. In the case of the recent World Cup soccer final between Argentina and France – the main event was momentous, indeed historic, with Argentina, in the end, winning on a series of decisive penalty kicks. But the post-victory party on the streets of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital was equally impressive – indeed massive. Hundreds of thousands of screaming fans – some say millions – crammed into the Plaza of the Republic to exult in their nation’s exhilarating triumph.
Television crews captured the sights and sounds of the celebration but it was streaming video provided by aerial drones – and posted on YouTube and web sites the world over – that perhaps best illustrated the sheer size and momentousness of the occasion.
Drones have filmed World Cup soccer celebrations before, but none quite like this one. During the competition itself drones made a marquee appearance by lighting up the sky with a dazzling fireworks-style light show that delighted fans in attendance at the soccer stadium in Doha Qatar. Other world-class sporting events have featured prominently in drone aerial photography in years past. In 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic made on-site attendance at the annual Horseshoe Racing World Cup in Dubai impossible, airscope drones broadcast the event live to 40 million viewers worldwide.
While drone involvement in armed combat, law enforcement, logistics and wildlife conservation have garnered the headlines to date, drone involvement in organized sports competition is growing. Many professional and college sports teams are beginning to use drones to film documentaries and to monitor their training camps to better coach their players. Some news organizations – under special guidelines – are beginning to deploy drones to provide additional angles of live broadcast coverage of major league baseball games.
In 2020, the NFL was the first major American sports league permitted to fly drones by the FAA. Part of the impetus was the COVID-19 pandemic. Many sports teams equipped drones with spray devices to sanitize their stadiums. However, drone overflights during live games – by stadium owners but especially by private hobbyists – are prohibited. Some reckless drone enthusiasts have been apprehended and subject to criminal prosecution. The safety risks to fans and players alike – as well as threats to privacy – is simply too great. (Drones are permitted to fly near stadiums – about 3 miles away, if the stadium holds less than 30,000 people – but that’s as close as they can get).
The advantages of adding drones to the world of sports are undeniable. Drone surveillance of athletes in training camps includes data collection that leads to better analytics which then translates into better performance on the field. Drones can also replace broadcast helicopters, reducing labor costs and the carbon footprint of gas-powered aircraft. And in the future, under proper guidelines, stadium security might utilize drones equipped with zoom and thermal imaging cameras to help monitor stadium crowds before and after live games as well as to detect and deter potential drone intruders.
Probably the biggest beneficiaries of expanded drone use will be sports fans – especially those millions that watch games off-site. Drones can zoom in to offer previously unavailable vantage points of live sports action – including fast-paced car and horse races – enhancing the viewer experience. But sports teams can also benefit from having drones on hand to review calls on the field by sports umpires and referees, reducing unnecessary disputes and protests over game outcomes.
All of these advantages are likely to be on display four years from now when two other soccer teams square off for another World Cup final. In the meantime, enjoy the celebration, Argentina.