FIFA Innovation for World Cup 2018

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After the approval of the IFAB (International Football Association Board) for using small electronic devices on the bench, FIFA will provide the participant teams of the World Cup with the technology for the coaching team and match analysts to interact.

For the first time in one of its tournaments, FIFA will give access to real-time positional data and video footage to the team’s analysts positioned on the media tribune. FIFA will also facilitate the connection to the coaching team next to the pitch so that they will be able to use this information for immediate action. The following video gives you an idea of how it will work.

The systems which will be used for this purpose are the EPTS (Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems). These are not new, since, as FIFA usually does, they researched and tested these systems for three years. VAR (Video Assistant Referees) is another example of technology which was tested before in order to apply it for the World Cup 2018 in the best possible conditions.

Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems are used to control and improve player and team performance, through camera-based or wearable technologies. These systems mainly track player and ball positions but can also be used in combination with micro electro mechanical devices (accelerometers, gyroscope, compass…) to measure physiological parameters.

There are three types of EPTS available on the market: Optical-based camera systems, Local positioning systems and GPS/GNSS systems. Each one has its benefits and limitations.

Optical-based camera systems

Benefits

  • Non-invasive to players
  • Commonly used in football market
  • High sampling rate, ball tracking possible

Limitations

  • Limited number of measurements
  • Tracking occlusions require manual corrections
  • Installation time

Local positioning systems (LPS)

Benefits

  • High number of measurements possible
  • Accuracy of measured data in real-time
  • Ultra-wise band technology reduces chances of interference in transmission path

Limitations

  • Fixed installation
  • Installation costs
  • Installation time

GPS/GNSS systems

Benefits

  • High number of measurements possible
  • Short installation time
  • Operator not needed

Limitations

  • Device attached to player and device size are issues for match day usage
  • Satellite signal line of sight in stadium
  • Accuracy concerns of measured data

Considering the advantages and disadvantages of each type of EPTS, we can conclude that FIFA will not use Optical-based camera systems, since it would not allow real-time data due to requiring manual corrections. Comparing LPS to GPS, the former has better accuracy when measuring real-time data, which will probably lead FIFA to choose LPS as the way to go for the World Cup 2018.

This is just one small innovation which is occurring along the big change in the way data and technology will be used for sports performance and entertainment. Step by step the sports industry landscape is transforming itself, and data will definitely be a key in this process.

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