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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.

FIFA and Mexican Football Federation’s Supercopa Femenil to encourage growth in women’s football

FIFA

With the financial support of FIFA, the Mexican Football Federation has launched the FIFA | FMF Supercopa Femenil (Women’s Super Cup) as part of its women’s football development programme.

The five-day U-15 tournament (between 3-7 August) organised in Toluca, provided 206 players across 12 teams from Nuevo León, Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Mexico City, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Estado de México, Baja California, Chihuahua, as well as a representative team from the United States, with an opportunity to have their talents detected by scouts from both Liga MX, and the Mexican national teams.

FIFA will provide technical support, equipment and funding for two years, as well as education and empowerment through seminars for coaches.

The FIFA’s Women’s Development Programme aims to provide all 211 member associations with the opportunity to apply for, and access additional resources and specialist expertise to develop women’s football at a national level.

Member associations can apply for support across eight key areas of women’s football development during the 2020-2023 period. In addition to financial assistance to cover the costs in selected programmes, the FIFA Women’s Development Programme will also provide access to women’s football experts, additional equipment and technical support within FIFA.

“The Supercopa Femenil was born from the dream of bringing Mexican youth players to a competitive showcase for women’s football in our country, attracting the best academies that are supporting the development of players in this category. This has resulted in a life-changing experience to be scouted by national team staff, and those of Liga MX Femenil teams,” Lucia Mijares, FMF Technical Sports Development Director, said in a statement.

Andrea Rodebaugh, FIFA Women’s Football Consultant, added via FIFA:

“Observing the Supercopa Femenil in Mexico has been inspirational. Its implementation is helping strengthen pathways by showcasing talent, motivating players and coaches as well as sharing knowledge and unique experiences so that growth continues where needed. There is so much talent, potential and support from everyone in the FMF. I am very optimistic for the future.”

Karl Dodd, FIFA Women’s Football Expert, stated via FIFA:

“The Supercopa has been well organised and provides a great opportunity for players to gain experience playing against top teams in their age group. It also enables scouts to watch these players, and for coaches to undertake development workshops to further improve the positive impact they have on players, supporting their personal and professional development.”

EA Sports to be the title sponsor for all LaLiga competitions

EA Sports & LaLiga

Beginning from the 2023-24 season onwards, a new multi-year agreement between EA Sports and LaLiga will pave the way for new experiences, deeper in-game integrations, enhanced broadcast communications, and commitment to grassroots initiatives.

The one-of-a-kind, multi-year partnership will allow both parties to deliver groundbreaking experiences for global football fans, with EA SPORTS FC securing title naming rights for all LaLiga competitions.

In addition, the deal will see a complete rebrand of LaLiga with EA Sports including all logos, graphics, fonts and other visual elements, while also delivering new in-game integration, broadcast highlights, and joint commitments to supporting grassroots initiatives.

This new partnership will encompass the first and second divisions of LaLiga (Spain’s top professional football competitions), LaLiga Promises (the league’s annual youth tournament) and eLaLiga.

“EA Sports FC is committed to delivering the most authentic and immersive experiences in global football. Our innovative new partnership with LaLiga further elevates that ambition and solidifies both organizations’ position at the centre of football culture,” David Jackson, VP Brand, EA Sports FC, said in a statement.

“The visible reach and scale of this partnership is deeply exciting, as is the opportunity to deliver incredible experiences for fans through in-game innovation, interactive entertainment and grassroots initiatives.

“EA Sports represents the cutting edge of interactive football experiences while LaLiga is at the forefront of actual football competitions with unmatched in-person, broadcast and digital fan experiences,” said Javier Tebas, President, LaLiga. “We have been strategic partners with EA Sports for years and this expanded agreement is a commitment to providing the next level of innovation to all football fans, a fusion between the virtual and real worlds of football.”

With this partnership, EA Sports and LaLiga will deepen their collaboration. Both LaLiga and EA Sports are committed to grassroots initiatives to grow the game which will include increasing accessibility, upgrading facilities, and many more initiatives to truly immerse fans into the world of football.

“This partnership with EA Sports is set to truly transform the way football is enjoyed around the world,” LaLiga Executive Director Óscar Mayo said via EA Sports.

“Moreover the alliance demonstrates LaLiga is a global brand, evidence of the success of our league to connect with fans internationally.

“We’re thrilled to partner with a worldwide leader in football fandom to better connect our fans to their favourite clubs, players, and LaLiga competitions,” said Nick Wlodyka, SVP & GM, EA Sports FC. “The contributions from LaLiga to our EA Sports FC portfolio will be immense, not only from a visual aspect, but across technological and game development improvements, further blurring the lines between the real and virtual worlds of football.”

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