Footie and Techie Meet to Create the Future of Football

The quadren1nial event that brings the world to a standstill – the ‘FIFA World Cup’ was recently held in Brazil. It was one of the most widely viewed sporting events across the world. The tournament has seen a lot of changes since its inception in 1930- in its format, the number of participating teams, rules, etc.

Moments of brilliance

In today’s day and age, like everything else, technology plays a very important role in a team’s success. Technology has evolved a lot since the first World Cup was played in 1930. From having the 1954 tournament televised for the first time, to having an estimated 26.29 billion viewers watch the 2006 tournament, to goal line technology being introduced this year, things have indeed come a long way.

Playing footie with technology

For the first time in history, the 2014 World Cup saw the use of SMAC (social media, mobility, analytics and cloud) on a large scale. All major professional clubs around the world used data analytics to help improve their team’s performance. Right from training sessions to live matches, huge chunks of data were collected and analyzed. Many top ranking clubs had tied up with software firms to analyze the data collected. Using this data, the analysts were able to provide vital statistical information to the clubs. Live matches provided billions of data points which were analyzed to gauge the team’s performance.

Mapping it all

On a typical football field, there are about 24 cameras to provide live streaming of the match (there are also player cams which allow a person watching at home to watch a particular player’s movement across the field), there are various behind the scenes cameras that capture about ten data points per player, every second. These are the ones that make the statistics visually appealing to us.

To keep the viewers glued to their television screens, TV networks have football pundits analyze the game. Typically there is a pre match analysis, half time analysis and post-match analysis, all beamed live across countries. With the help of data analysis software that has been designed to crunch the live data points, the pundits are able to seamlessly analyze the performance of key players and the team as a whole. Match stats like goals scored, total shots, shots on target, offside, fouls, yellow/red cards are pretty simple data points that one can track over the duration of the match. Other stats like total distance covered by each player and the team, player speed profiles, player movement tracing, visualized passes (attempted and converted), and heat mapping, etc. are provided by these software using real-time data measurements.

Real-time data measurements have now been adopted in the training schedules. Here, trackers and sensors are used across the training field on the goal posts, players, ball, etc. and each player is given a number of sensors. These trackers and sensors send out live data, which is analyzed in real time. One of the advantages of using data analytics is in helping reduce the risk of player injuries. The data points collected from these sessions and matches are analyzed and using these it is possible to reduce the risk of player injuries due to overload in training, etc. It is also used to help players address their weaknesses.

Apart from the above examples, data analytics is used to scout players, study opponents, analyze the season’s performance, examine players’ work rate and for many more practical applications. Betting companies also use analytics to derive the odds and predict match results. Companies like Prozone, SAP, Opta, and Kizanaro are a few that develop mapping software.

Getting mobile and social

In today’s digital age, social media and mobility too has its fair share in the future of this beautiful game. They provide the perfect platform for football clubs to reach out to their fans, keep them updated with all the latest news, match day programs, get constant feedback from fans among others. All teams have their official pages on all social networking sites giving constant updates. Match days see a lot of buzz in social media right from live match updates to posting selfies by both fans and players alike.

It’s amazing how technology binds things together and helps us get multiple perspectives of the game. Do the geeks at Aditi have anything more to add in to this? If yes, we would love to hear from you.

Below are a few things that might interest our geeky football fans:

World Cup in the Social Media:

  • More than 261,026 tweets for Pepe’s red card
  • 2 million tweets for WC opener between Brazil and Croatia
  • 1,967,657 tweets mentioning Mexico goalie Ochoa during the Brazil vs. Mexico match
  • More than 2.1 billion searches on Google related to World Cup
  • 6 million tweets, during the semifinal between Brazil & Germany – The single most discussed game ever on Twitter
  • Overall a record of 672 million tweets during the tournament
  • 6,18,715 tweets/minute during the final
  • More than 3 billion interactions on Facebook during the course of the tournament

By Pradeep Narendran

 

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