La Liga’s expanded partnership with Microsoft set to transform digital experience

Spain’s La Liga competition has expanded its partnership with US technology giant Microsoft, in a move which is set to transform the digital experience for fans.

Under the details of the deal, Microsoft, who have partnered with La Liga since 2016, will work in cahoots with the league to update existing solutions and create new ones, with a focus on driving innovation in the sports sector.

For example, La Liga will offer new experiences such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and 3D replays.

Microsoft’s Azure Event Hubs, Azure Data Lake, Azure Data Bricks and Azure Machine Learning service will also provide supporters with data-enhanced match coverage and streaming options, including features such as giving the viewer the choice of which camera angle they want to watch the game from.

Rights holders, commercial partners and broadcasters are also set to benefit from the partnership, with Dynamics 365, Power BI, SQL Database, Azure Cosmos DB and more to enable an OTT streaming platform which will feature personalised recommendations and enhanced experiences, alongside relevant content, services and games.

Microsoft and La Liga will also work together in regards to streamlining stadium operations through various innovations in security, as well as leveraging 5G for unified in-stadium experiences.

The Spanish top-tier competition will use cloud computing service Microsoft Azure’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning software for its Mediacoach and LaLigaSportsTV services “to reinvent interactive audio-visual experiences and formats”.

LaLigaSports TV, an OTT streaming platform which features multiple sports, has had over 1.5 million registered users, with La Liga’s collection of official apps reaching more than 113 million downloads globally.

La Liga claims the collaboration with Microsoft will be crucial to the overall development of La Liga Tech, its B2B offering, with the league to bundle its range of technologies for a commercial result.

“The collaboration is key to the growth and development of La Liga Tech, through which La Liga will package its full range of existing technologies into a commercial offering for the sports industry, from match-day stats and analytics to the next generation of OTT streaming services, to the most advanced content protection services and venue access management systems,” a statement read from the Microsoft website.

“This will help the competition to expand into a new era in sports and beyond and enhance the fan experience by creating new data-driven technology solutions, powered by Microsoft Azure, Power BI, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365, and provide customized technology platform, services and solutions to third parties.

“The offerings build on La Liga’s rich history of investing and focusing on the development of innovative technology aimed at enhancing the fan experience.”

Javier Tebas, current president of La Liga said of the new extended partnership: “We value Microsoft as our technology and innovation partner and appreciate how they collaborate deeply to build innovative solutions aimed at solving business challenges specific to our industry.“We are moving into a new era in which technology will become the centre of the fan experience and data insights will power the next stage of global growth.”

Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president of global sales, operations and marketing for Microsoft, added: “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with La Liga as it makes further bold moves to deepen engagement with its hundreds of millions of fans, while bringing new business models to market with Microsoft cloud and AI capabilities.

“Microsoft is proud to help accelerate La Liga’s digital innovation and empower exciting new business opportunities in the sports and entertainment industries through La Liga’s technology portfolio.”

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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.

Football Australia bolsters leadership with key new appointments

Football Australia has confirmed the appointments of Briana Harvey as General Manager of the Women’s National Teams and David Mason for the role of General Manager of the Men’s National Teams.

These strategic appointments are part of Football Australia’s ongoing efforts to strengthen and enhance the leadership and management of its national teams, ensuring both the women’s and men’s programs benefit from experienced and dedicated leadership.

Harvey has an extensive background in sports management, having held key roles at prominent organizations such as Hockey Victoria, the Australian Football League, Hawthorn Football Club, and, most recently, at the GWS GIANTS Football Club. Her diverse experience across these major sporting bodies highlights her expertise and leadership capabilities in the field.

Mason’s deep involvement with Australian football stretches back to 1998. Throughout his career, he has held numerous management positions in media and communications, football operations, and club administration at Northern Spirit, Parramatta Power, Sydney FC, and Football Australia.

His extensive experience across these diverse roles has equipped him with a comprehensive understanding of the sport’s landscape, making him a valuable asset in his new role.

For the last seven years, Mason has served as CEO of Manly Warringah Football Association and Manly United FC, one of Australia’s largest football associations. Returning to Football Australia, Mason brings with him a vast reservoir of knowledge in local, regional, and global football.

His experience is complemented by a deep familiarity with Australia’s National Football Teams, positioning him to make significant contributions in his new role.

Beginning on August 12, both Harvey and Mason will take charge of the strategic, operational, and administrative aspects of Football Australia’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams. Their responsibilities will include planning and managing budgets, as well as coordinating overall annual match schedules.

In their roles, they will ensure that all logistical and operational needs are met, driving the success and efficiency of the national teams’ programs.

Their leadership will be pivotal in shaping the future of Australian football on both the national and international stages.

Head of National Teams Gary Moretti expressed his excitement of the designation via press release.

“We are delighted to have secured the services of both Briana and David who as individuals and collectively bring a wealth of industry knowledge to Football Australia,” he said.

“Briana has a strong corporate pedigree with extensive experience within elite level sport. Her background and passion for women’s sport will be an invaluable asset to our National Teams both now and in the future.

“David is a football person and has contributed to the sport at all levels for almost three decades. In addition to his strong football acumen, David brings significant business and operational experience from his highly successful tenure as a CEO within the football industry.

“Along with Andrew McKenzie (General Manager – High Performance), the appointments of Briana and David will strengthen the management and future prospects of our National Teams as we look to create an elite performance and operational environment featuring a world’s best-practice focus.”

CEO of Football Australia James Johnson added how their experience and wealth of knowledge will ensure operation excellence via press release.

“The appointments of Briana and David are strategic moves that align with our vision to enhance the performance and success of our National Teams. Their combined experience and leadership will play a crucial role in ensuring operational excellence, so we remain competitive on the global stage and continue to inspire the next generation of football talent in Australia.”

Football Australia – National Teams Senior Management

Head of National Teams: Gary Moretti
General Manager – Women’s National Teams: Briana Harvey (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – Men’s National Teams: David Mason (commencing 12 August)
General Manager – High Performance: Andrew McKenzie (commenced 10 July)
General Manager – Football Analysis, Data and Insights (to be appointed)

The creation of four new leadership positions within the National Teams underscores Football Australia’s commitment and investment in its Senior and Youth National Teams, as outlined in the XI Principles for the future of Australian Football. Every position plays a critical role in advancing, overseeing, and ensuring the sustained success of all High Performance and National Team programs and initiatives.

Football South Australia extend collaboration with SAASL

Football South Australia and the South Australian Amateur Soccer League (SAASL) have extended their collaboration, strengthening their cooperation in developing football in the state.

There was a meeting held recently where key representatives from both organisations discussed ways to continue their growth of the game in the state at all levels.

Since the partnership began in 2018, the two parties have made a meaningful impact in the South Australian football community.

Several key initiatives have been launched through this collaboration which include:

Referee Development: Football SA’s Referees Department is now responsible for assigning match officials for all SAASL games. In 2024, the strategic emphasis by Football SA and SAASL on referees has led to a notable improvement in match official coverage for Senior Divisions in both Saturday and Sunday leagues.

Officiating Initiatives: Football SA has introduced various initiatives to recruit new referees and support young officials, such as State Championships and specialised mentorship programs. Meanwhile, SAASL is actively working on strategies to enhance their Club Referee program, offering a clear pathway for both new and returning referees.

Respect Campaign: The Armband Campaign to protect young referees has been successfully launched. Embraced by clubs, participants, and the football community, the bright orange armbands worn by referees under 18 serve as a clear reminder that these officials are minors.

Venue Support: ServiceFM Stadium has been the venue for major SAASL events, offering a professional environment for amateur league matches.

Streamlined Registration: SAASL players will keep registering via a consistent Player Registration System, which enhances administrative efficiency and ensures the integrity of player registrations.

Shared Competition Management System: Offering uniform and efficient Competition Management Processes across all competitions, enhancing efficiency for clubs, referees, and association administrators.

Enhanced Player Protection: SAASL players are covered by the National Insurance Scheme, which offers essential protection for clubs, administrators, volunteers, and participants.

Michael Carter, CEO of Football SA spoke very highly of the partnership and its effects on the game in SA.

“This extension represents more than just a renewal of our agreement,” he said in a statement.

“It’s a testament to the evolving and strengthening relationship between Football SA and SAASL. We’re working closer together than ever before, and the results speak for themselves.”

George Fotopoulos, President of SAASL and SAASL Board members and Executive Officer Darcy Evan shared a similar sentiment about the excitement of this continued long-term partnership.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with Football SA. Our ongoing affiliation has seen a significant improvement in our Referee coverage in 2024, that is due to the collaboration and hard work of both the Football SA and the SAASL administration teams. We look forward to further opportunities the partnership will provide,” SAASL confirmed in a statement.

Overall, this partnership enhances the infrastructure, safety, and quality of football in South Australia, encouraging greater participation for players, coaches and referees which is helping the sport thrive at all levels.

Amateur and grassroots football success is the core to any good footballing foundation and this prosperous partnership continuing is a brilliant result.

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