Soccer players who commit major fouls at a pro soccer match in Mexico on Thursday night won't be flashed with the traditional red card referees use to mark major offenses. Instead, that ref will whip out a smartphone and point an all-red screen at offending players.
That's thanks to Referee Pro, an app for iPhone and Android that's making its debut in the Mexican Indoor Football League's final match in Mexico City. A consumer version from European startup Siine will be released "in the coming months," according to the company.
[More from Mashable: McKayla Maroney Meets Obama, Looks Impressed [PIC]]
Screens replacing red (and yellow) cards certainly captures the imagination, but that swap is actually Referee Pro's least relevant feature. What's more important is that the app replaces the pencil-and-paper method of tracking fouls and other stats with simple, easily stored and found electronic data entry. It's set to official FIFA rules, meaning referees anywhere in the world will immediately be good to go after downloading it.
[More from Mashable: This Gadget Lets You Feed Your Pets From Your Smartphone]
While Siine says Thursday night will mark the first time a soccer ref has used a smartphone to manage a match, Referee Pro is actually just the latest app revolutionizing how sports information is dealt with and made use of.
The app GameChanger lets youth sports coaches ditch traditional scorebooks to enter stats and other information on their smartphones or tablets. It then produces an electronic box score and processes all the data to produce advanced statistical analytics -- think "Moneyball" for Little League.
The iPad app SportsBoard, meanwhile, is doing the same for college sports, as well as allowing coaches to streamline the all-important player evaluation and recruiting process. With widepsread tablet technology still relatively new -- and smartphones still just a recent pillar of the sports world -- expect apps like these to become increasingly common over the coming year.
Are smartphone apps for refs a welcome addition to the sports world, or would you prefer to see leagues stick with more traditional officiating methods? Give us your take in the comments.
BONUS GALLERY: 10 Exhilarating Apps for Sports Fans
1. MLB.com At Bat
Beloved by many sports fans, MLB.com At Bat is Major League Baseball's official app. It lets you stream games, track stats, access highlights, listen to radio broadcasts and follow your favorite teams and players. It's available in the App Store and Google Play, and on other platforms, for $9.99.
Thumbnail image courtesy iStockphoto, mikkelwilliam
This story originally published on Mashable here.