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The Bundesliga continues to build its reputation as football’s innovation benchmark

The Bundesliga is one of the world’s leading sports brands.

The competition has the highest average attendance figures in world football (over 43,000 per game), as well as huge overall revenues that are only comparable to a few other sporting leagues across the globe.

The German league has used this success to continue to build its digital engagement methods with its worldwide supporter base.

Over the past three seasons the Bundesliga’s digital channels have increased its fanbase by over one hundred percent, becoming the most engaged of all top European leagues.

The Bundesliga’s proactive approach continues to show why it is being labelled as football’s leading league, in regards to its technological enhancements.

Its long-term strategy to produce content that reaches more fans, in more ways, more often, is fuelling its further growth.

In recent years, the competition does have a notable history when it comes to innovation.

In 2011, the Bundesliga launched the world’s biggest digital football archive. The archive has over 33,000 matches on demand and over 140,000 hours of content, with historical data spanning back to the league’s composition in 1963.

In 2012, it became the first professional league to create an E-Football competition which now has over 120,000 players competing each year.

Goal-line technology was implemented in 2015, with games broadcasted in Ultra High Definition (UHD) in 2016.

VAR was introduced in the Bundesliga in 2017, becoming one of the first leagues to use the system.

Virtual advertising began in 2018, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) used to deliver highlights in 2019 to fans, through a partnership with WSC Sports.

In association with Vodafone, the Bundesliga implemented 5G technology in football stadiums for the first time ever this past season. Fans were able to test real-time data and Augmented Reality (AR) on their smartphones during a game, in what was a look into the future for the in-stadium spectator experience.

So, after all of these previous technological innovations, what are the Bundesliga’s future plans in the digital world?

Their long-term approach focuses on a key process, which includes: Monitoring the current industry and engagement levels, building new innovative products and testing their capabilities, then finally implementing those that are successful and will satisfy the league’s high targets.

The league works with educational institutions such as Harvard Business School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to keep an eye on new tech and identify changes in consumer behaviour, consumption and how they relate to the league.

Alongside this academic research, data has been collected by Bundesliga subsidiary Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL) Digital Sports, detailing how fans consume football, on what platforms, how often and what type of content they enjoy the most.

Another Bundesliga subsidiary Sportec Solutions, records around four million pieces of data from each game, equating to roughly 40,000 pieces a minute. Using DFL Digital Sports’ personal preference information, the data gathered can be utilised by delivering content that leads to deeper connections with its fans and building its base in key markets.

“Understanding the needs and interests of Bundesliga fans stands at the centre of our strategic development as an entertainment provider,” Bundesliga’s Executive Vice-President of Digital Innovation, Andreas Heyden, told fcbusiness.

“Innovative technologies don’t only allow us to learn about and identify what consumers want, but also enables us to react to their demand for individualised content whenever and wherever they want. How fast leagues are able to feed in and integrate new technologies, and offer customised content to fans, will determine who will be at the forefront of football innovation in the years to come.”

Partnering with Messe Dusseldorf, the Bundesliga participated in and also hosted various innovation events in different markets.

In May 2018, the first SportsInnovation event was held in Dusseldorf, with SportsInnovation Future Summits held in China and the USA late last year.

A similar SportsInnovation event will be held in the near future.

Messe Dusseldorf’s Director of SportsInnovation, Heinz Kusters, said: “No other football league offers an innovation event on this scale. It offers a platform for interaction and exchange. Decision-makers from clubs, federations and organisations, as well as the media and the broadcasting industry involved in high-performance sports will come together from all four corners of the world, gain exclusive insights into the technologies of the present and future, exchange ideas and set the foundation for innovations to come. With several new technological developments in the areas of match analysis, broadcasting, digital services and stadium experience to be showcased in a live football environment, it’s certainly an event not to be missed.”

The Bundesliga does continue to invest in its bright future.

An investment with German company Athletia, has led to a joint venture product called ‘Ryghts’, which will monitor all levels of international piracy of Bundesliga matches.

Smart financial decisions such as this, will help the league maintain its strong reputation as football’s innovation leader.

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. Follow him on Twitter @PhilipPanas

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

New Zealand Football confirms 2020/21 season details

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season, during October and November.

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season.

The national men’s football league, the ISPS Handa Premiership will start in November, while the National Women’s League will commence from the weekend of October 31.

COVID-19 has also forced some structural changes to be made to both the men’s and women’s competitions.

In the ISPS Handa Premiership, the competition will feature eight club instead of the usual 10 teams. The South Island teams, Southern United, Tasman United and Canterbury United Dragons, will merge for the upcoming season. They will play under the Canterbury United Dragons name.

The competition will retain its usual format of a regular season with each team playing each other twice before a finals series including semi-finals and a grand final – the latter is expected to be held in March 2021.

Plans for a promotion and relegation framework have been postponed and will be reviewed before the 2021/22 season.

The National Women’s League will be played as a single round robin competition for this season. A grand final will be held on the weekend of December 19. The competition will feature all seven women’s teams.

“It has taken a lot of work with our clubs and federations to get to this stage but we are excited to now be able to confirm initial details of our national competitions for the upcoming season,” Daniel Farrow, General Manager of Football for New Zealand Football said in a statement.

“While Covid-19 and the knock-on effect of shifting community football dates has had an impact on the length of competitions and, in the case of the ISPS Handa Premiership, the number of teams able to take part, running men’s, women’s and futsal national league competitions this year was a key priority and we are very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of Sport NZ and our on-going partnership with Trillian Trust as key contributors to staging competitions this season.”

The 2019/20 ISPS Handa Premiership was called off early in March due to COVID-19. Auckland City, who were leading the competition at the time, were declared champions.

Queensland features an abundance of Matildas

New figures show that Queensland's female development has been incredibly successful in finding new talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

New figures show that Queensland’s female development has been incredibly successful in finding talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

As part of Football Queensland’s latest findings, 40 homegrown players have gone on to represent the Australian Women’s National Team at major senior and youth tournaments since July 2012.

Katrina Gorry, Mackenzie Arnold and Hayley Raso (pictured) are a few examples of local talents working their way up the ranks during the last eight years and will be key contributors in the next Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Gorry, Arnold and Raso spent time at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) before accomplishing themselves in the Westfield W-League and internationally.

Football Queensland and the QAS combined to launch a full-time training and playing program for upcoming talents in 2018.

“Our pathway is now the envy of every female footballer in the country,” Rae Dower said, a former Matilda and current Junior Matildas Head Coach.

“We’re fully committed to evolving the program and to helping as many female players in Queensland reach their full potential on and off the field through the creation of our high-performance environment.

“We’d love to help make dreams come true for Queensland players wanting to play for the Matildas in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and beyond.”

Football Federation Australia revealed more than 18,000 women and girls from Queensland played football in 2019, as part of the latest census findings – a three per cent increase on 2018.

“The numbers we have are very encouraging and we look forward to seeing Queensland produce many more Westfield Matildas,” FQ Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said.

“Having the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil will be a big moment and objective for aspirational players and we are putting a lot of resources into helping them achieve their goals, not just now but permanently.”

Football Queensland provided every local player who has represented Australia at Olympic Games, World Cups or Continental Championships since the beginning of July in 2012:

Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold, Mia Bailey, Angela Beard, Georgia Beaumont, Savannah Boller, Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Larissa Crummer, Isobel Dalton, Casey Dumont, Charlotte Farmer, Ciara Fowler, Mary Fowler, Sunny Franco, Shekinah Friske, Emily Gielnik, Brooke Goodrich, Katrina Gorry, Winonah Heatley, Elise Kellond-Knight, India Kubin, Aivi Luik, Afrikah McGladrigan, Teagan Micah, Ayesha Norrie (Kirby), Hollie Palmer, Clare Polkinghorne, Kezia Pritchard, Hayley Raso, Jamilla Rankin, Taylor Ray, Indiah-Paige Riley, Arina Tokunaga, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine, Natasha Wheeler, Brittany Whitfield, Tameka Yallop (Butt).

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