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How La Liga is successfully approaching digital transformation

Digital transformation is a key part of the future of football.

Spain’s La Liga competition continues to be at the forefront in this area, with administrators guiding clubs to embrace new digital tools to communicate with fans, streamline services and acquire new data.

La Liga recently shared its technological expertise with Spain’s Chamber of Commerce, to produce a paper for the country’s small to medium-sized businesses.

In the paper, businesses are provided with an explanation of the underlying principles of digital transformation and are encouraged to adopt various technologies in their operations.

The resource will also be further useful for La Liga clubs themselves, to expand on the growing culture of digital transformation in their processes.

Since 2013, La Liga has identified technology as a pillar of future growth, assisting clubs with various digital transformation projects.

The ultimate aim for the organisation is to ensure all 42 clubs (in the first and second tier) move towards the same direction.

Minerva Santana, La Liga’s director of innovation, strategy and technological transformation, explained in the La Liga Newsletter: “The first step is to generate awareness at all levels, but especially at the level of leaders and decision makers, the relevance of digital transformation as a lever for competitiveness and value generation.

“From there, it’s useful to have a self-evaluation process to work out which point in the digital transformation process a business is at,” she added.

“This creates a baseline from which you can establish objectives and a strategy. Once the objectives and priorities are established, it’s important to build a plan and to seek support internally and from external partners.”

Recent examples that have been successful and referential in world sport include, RCD Mallorca adopting technology that is wearable and remotely monitors player’s workouts; Osasuna introducing intelligent shinpads into their club academies; Real Sociedad developing smart scarves and shirts, using wearable NFC tags; Celta de Vigo installing remote video technology at their training complex and Valencia CF creating a seat delivery service which allows fans to order food and drink from their seats at the stadium.

In Spain’s second tier, La Liga Smartbank, clubs are increasingly ambitious when it comes to technological growth. Clubs in that division have grown their online presence by 23 percent since July of last year, which is a growth rate far higher than any other second tier in Europe’s top leagues.

UD Almeria, CF Fuenlabrada and Cádiz CF have recorded growth of over 85 percent, year-on-year.

“This shows that an increased focus on digital helps clubs to reach a wider fanbase,” Santana added.

“In the last year, La Liga clubs have recorded some of the highest growth rates in Europe when it comes to digital adoption, particularly within digital communications.

“Our focus is to continue building on what has been achieved and to continue working with clubs of all sizes to embrace new digital tools that will help evolve their business and support the growth of the entire competition.”

La Liga has formed alliances with technology giants such as Microsoft, building dedicated teams of technology experts in innovation, as well as data analytics.

These teams have continued to stimulate growth opportunities for clubs, through the sharing of resources and expertise.

“At La Liga, we’ve created a portfolio of digital services and integration programmes that allow us to respond to the concrete needs of each club,” Santana claimed.

“We’ve built an ecosystem in the areas of innovation, digital and data that we’ve made available to clubs to help them with their business objectives.”

Examples of this include platforms that are shared with clubs to help them build apps and websites, the use of the Sandbox tool for analysis of match data in the cloud and much more.

“The new technologies that come from digital transformation provide the flexibility to adapt to constantly evolving behaviours and consumption habits, so the appearance of new products and services, as well as the appearance of new models, will be more frequent,” she said.

“This will make the competitive environment more complex but richer.

“At La Liga we have always conveyed the importance of digital transformation to clubs and its impact on competitiveness. The success we are seeing is creating a drive for new innovation across the competition and this is something we will continue to support,” Santana concluded.

For more information on the local scene, read our piece on why digital transformation is vital for Australian football here.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Los Angeles FC teams up with Foundation Fighting Blindness to host vision impaired fans

Major League Soccer club Los Angeles FC is teaming up with the Foundation Fighting Blindness to host blind and low vision fans at LAFC matches at Banc of California Stadium this season.

Leveraging the team’s partnership with audio technology Mixhalo, fans will have access to crystal-clear, real-time play-by-play in English, featuring the call of ESPN LA’s Dave Denholm and the Spanish audio featuring Armando Aguayo on 980 AM La Mera Mera.

All fans at Banc of California can now use their phone, headphones and the free mobile Mixhalo app to listen to Mixhalo’s high-quality live audio for an immersive experience while watching at the stadium.

As the first-ever MLS team to adopt the technology, LAFC announced its collaboration with Mixhalo in December 2020. With fans now returning to Banc of California Stadium at full capacity, Mixhalo audio will be available to all fans at every LAFC home game throughout the remainder of the 2022 season.

“LAFC matches are for everyone,” LAFC Co-President and CBO Larry Freedman told lafc.com.

“We are constantly focusing on improving our fan experience and making our games more accessible to all. We are proud to welcome fans from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community this season to experience LAFC matches in person through Mixhalo’s incredible technology.”

Guests from the Foundation Fighting Blindness community will attend select LAFC home games and have the opportunity to meet with Denholm and Aguayo before the game.

“We are honoured to be partnering with LAFC in making the games more accessible for our blind and low vision community,” Jason Menzo said to lafc.com, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation Fighting Blindness.

“We look forward to the technology rolling out into other stadiums, not only in the United States, but globally.

Mixhalo Head of Sports Doug Holtzman added:

“Mixhalo elevates the live sports experience for everyone, and we’re thrilled that vision impaired LAFC fans can enjoy a better experience at matches this season.”

“With live calls from Dave Denholm directly in your ear – it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

FIFA and EA Sports end 30-year deal

As reported by the New York Times on Wednesday, gaming giant EA Sports and world football governing body FIFA have parted ways.

The partnership dated back to 1993, when FIFA International Soccer was launched for the SEGA Genesis.

Their current partnership was set to expire at the conclusion of the Qatar World Cup, with a new deal aiming to branch out into new areas – including NFTs.

It was reported that EA made a ‘significant offer’ for an eight-year exclusivity deal with FIFA for all of its Esports and gaming rights. However, the deal was knocked back, according to Reuters, as FIFA did not want the rights all with one company.

FIFA 23 will be the last game made in collaboration between the two organisations, set to release in late September this year, worldwide.

The FIFA series was estimated at the start of 2021 to have sold over 325 million units, according to ForbesFIFA 18 is the equal 40th highest selling video game of all time, estimated at 24 million units across all platforms.

FIFA confirmed it would still produce video games with third party developers, while EA will rebrand the FIFA series under the title EA Sports FC. The new series would include licensees such as the Premier League and LaLiga, which at this stage has authentic coverage, as all players are face scanned and the full broadcast packages akin to real life are featured in the game.

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