Friday Inspiration : FootTech

Yesterday was the kick-off of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Whether on the field or in the stands with the supporters, technology will be omnipresent during these two very special months. On this occasion, we decided to offer you an insight into FootTech.

 

On the field

In less than a decade, technology settled at the very heart of stadiums. From national championships to World Cups, innovation reached Europe’s most popular sport. Over the past years, the development of technologies abundant data and analytics brought innovation to soccer. This innovation is encouraged not only by FIFA, the international governing body of soccer but also by clubs such as Olympique de Marseille, FC Barcelona, Arsenal or SL Benfica through startup contests, hackathons, labs or other programs aiming at supporting young ventures.

In 2010, all Spanish stadiums of La Liga were equipped with six cameras registering everything happening on the field: the type of data collected like the pace of players, for example, is still used to this day for statistics. The data collected via Spanish video motion analysis tool Mediacoach not only satisfied supporters but also coaches.

More generally, technology has changed the way teams train. Analytic tools such as video analysis enable coaches and clubs’ staff to review games and training sessions and establish their team’s strengths and weaknesses. This technology also serves as a tool to analyze opponent’s tactics and many other factors which need to be taken into consideration before a high-level football game.

Another example stressing the importance of analytics: the German National Team during the 2014 World Cup. During this World Cup, the Mannschaft partnered with SAP, a German-based European multinational software corporation that created the SAP Match Insights analytics platform. The winning team used Adidas MiCoach wearable technology to monitor training metrics such as player fitness or speed in SAP’s Match Insights. It was the first time the platform was used in soccer. It is now very widely used.

World Cups: from 2014 to 2018

Within four years, the use of technology radically increased and paved the way for more evolution in soccer.

In 2014, the FIFA World Cup in Brazil added the goal-line technology. Implemented for the first time in 2013, the goal-line technology uses cameras and magnetic fields to determine if the ball entirely crossed the goal line or not -and therefore if a goal was scored or not. Only three companies have been licensed by the FIFA to provide this technology: the German firm Cairos, the British firm Hawk-Eye and the German research institute Fraunhofer which developed the GoalRef system in association with Select Sport, a Danish sports equipment manufacturer. When some might think technology can slow down the pace of a game or affect its quality, others like Manchester United’s coach José Mourinho feel very enthusiastic. To him, “referees especially need and deserve protection. […]They need the technology to help them, protect them and to support them”.

This year, for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, another useful technological tool has been added: the video-assisted referees (aka VAR). VAR will be used in an advisory capacity to help on-field referees with contentious decisions. [Learn more on VAR here].

This year, Goal-line technology and VAR will be connected to referees’ Hublot watches. The system in the watches features several notifications and will follow the trajectories of the ball and notify the referee whether the ball entirely crosses the goal line or not. Hublot also commercialized fan versions of the watch to change the supporter’s experience.

Among  the supporters

One of the objectives of FootTech is also to bring a better experience to football supporters, not only through the use of data, but also thanks to everything that surrounds fans watching a game.

Here are some of the French tech startups that work towards giving football fans the best possible experience.

 

Create a virtual community

Nowadays, when it comes to communities, social networks are the key. These past four years, they’ve all evolved and adapted to supporters’ habits. Most of them have developed features such as filters to support their teams. These habits also accelerate the deployment of technologies like 5G in Russia for the World Cup.

Beyond social networks, startups also emerged with apps to reinforce this feeling of communion and community in soccer.

Here are three of them:

 

  • Super Football Club

 

Created by the Franco-Italian Lucas Varone, Super FC provides an app and a website that helps supporters find a place to watch games. It also integrates a chat to favorize interactions within a fan community and partnered up with French magazine So Foot that publishes content for upcoming games.

 

  • Bot Line Technology

 

Bot Line Technology is a humoristic chatbot that gives users daily summaries of football news, enables them to consult the live ranking of European championships and offers surveys, mini-games, and contests.

  • Benchr

Benchr is an app that allows users to rate players, actions, refereeing decisions, and share their view at a stadium with a community before, during and after the game.

Launched in 2017, the app already seduced diffusers such as beIN Sports which allows its subscribers to use it since September.  

Interested? Discover more FootTech startups here.

 

Increase supporters’ experience

In 2017, to increase football fans’ experience, La Liga installed a technology called Trueview in Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s stadium) and Santiago Bernabéu (Real Madrid’s stadium). Trueview is a system that uses 38 cameras and can offer TV slow motions from all angles and in any positions.

“Think about what a football fan needs. They need to discuss what happened on the ground. […] The fan who has more knowledge is more likely to be right when he discusses the game the day before. This technology is perfect to offer a specific analysis of certain actions”, according to Emili Planas, CTO and Operations Manager at Mediapro.

 

“We live in a world surrounded by technology and soccer can’t avoid it” Former referee Pierluigi Collina

Even though technology eventually reached soccer to change the game’s experience, at the end of the day, what really matters is the game in itself, the emotion provided and the supporters fervor, so get ready to chant on Saturday, June 6th for France – Australia.

 

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