The news that the Italian soccer league has banned the green uniform from the 2022/2023 season has surprised sports fans. The rationale is that clothing the same color as the grass can make it difficult for the referee and the public to see, as well as interfere with television broadcasts. But does this make sense?
As per science, yes. Green is one of the most “deceptive” colors of the human eye and the easiest to confuse. To understand what is happening, we first need to understand how we see the colors of the universe.
The colors we see on TV and in the real world are actually different frequencies of the same electromagnetic radiation. All the colors that the human eye can see together makes up a small slice of this spectrum, which is called the “visible spectrum”.
This spectrum consists of seven main colors (and their various shades), from red to violet. Radiation with a higher frequency than violet is called “ultraviolet” and is invisible to the eye. Frequencies below red are called “infrared” and are also invisible.
Each color in the visible part of the spectrum occupies a small band of this electromagnetic field. The color red, for example, is only visible when light that reaches our eyes travels in a wavelength of 620 to 750 nanometers. It’s as if the field of visible color is a highway, and each color travels on its own path.
The bands at the ends (violet, on the one hand, and red, on the other) are the widest, while the ones in the middle are thinner. Green is in the middle of this spectrum, so it occupies a shorter range.
“Its spectrum is smaller, which is why green has fewer undertones,” explains Reinaldo Borges, professor of engineering courses at Fiap (São Paulo School of Informatics and Management). The rarity of shades makes it difficult for the human eye to see the difference between dark green and light green, for example.
The problem is not felt by those who watch football on TV and can manually configure the contrast and sharpness levels of the screens. However, for those who watch it on the field and even on the field, it can make all the difference when it comes to identifying a sensitive move as an offside or penalty kick.
says Carlos Debassi, Professor of the Film and Audiovisual Course at PUC-PR (Popal Catholic University of Paraná).
Another barrier to green has to do with digital advertising. Green is used in a technique called chroma-key, where the entire green area of an image can be digitally replaced with another image, allowing you to create fake backgrounds or other photo-editing embellishments.
Those billboards on the edge of the lawn or behind an athlete while they are interviewing at the European Games can use this technology to display different sponsors depending on the country and broadcaster that is broadcasting the match, for example.
“If there is a green man there [na frente da placa publicitária vestido com a roupa verde], suddenly an advertisement can replace the player’s image and disappear,” explains Vivaldo Jose Bretternitz, professor at the School of Computing and Informatics at the University of Presbyteriana Mackenzie, in São Paulo.
Is there a danger that this fashion will spread around the world and prevent traditional Brazilian teams from wearing green? is unlikely.
In Italy, only one first division team will have to adapt, and green is not the main color of their shield. “But from a physics point of view, this is a good decision,” Borges comments.
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