The initiatives Australian football could adopt

In a competitive sport media landscape, Australian football needs to adopt initiatives to remain relevant and gain advantages on its competitors.

La Liga are an organisation that has introduced several initiatives this year – the latest of which is a FanCam.

Last weekend the FanCam was launched, which captures the goal celebrations of La Liga players. Without fans in attendance players have been encouraged to celebrate towards the camera to connect with their fans.

The cameras will also be installed in all La Liga Smartbank (second division) stadiums.

“FanCam is another step towards improving and personalising our audiovisual product,” the director of La Liga’s audiovisual department, Melcior Soler said.

“With it we are going to give fans a much more personal and genuine view of the players, seeing up close how they celebrate their team’s goals.

“We trust in the players to realise the importance of celebrating their goals in front of the FanCam, because this puts them in direct contact with their fans.

“That’s why we are so convinced that their use of FanCam will increase, to the point that it is used all the time.”

Without further outbreaks fans are likely to attend A-League matches next season, however a FanCam could be still be introduced to add to the broadcast experience.

The goal celebrations would also be likely to be popular across social media and could be easily shared across platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.

Clubs could also fully embrace other platforms such as YouTube.

While there are currently no Australian football streaming series and it is not viable for A-League clubs to make full length documentaries – shorter content focusing on the pre-season or a series of matches during the season could be released on YouTube, to give fans a closer look into their favourite teams.

Head of Media and Communications at La Liga second division club RCD Mallorca, Albert Salas spoke about the importance of quality communication to the club’s fans.

“In La Liga, especially in the second and third divisions, clubs don’t normally have the resources to create content such as behind-the-scenes documentaries,” he said.

“We’re trying every week, every month to create content that communicates to our fans better than anyone else. Quality is key in the communications of the club.”

RCD Mallorca might be an unknown club to many Australian football fans, yet their YouTube channel was incredibly successful during the last season.

They did this by making the most of their opportunities, the club focused their content around player Takefusa Kubo, which saw a rise in Japanese fans of RCD Mallorca.

“We were the third club in La Liga with close to 2.4 million views, only behind Real Madrid on 4 million and FC Barcelona on 10 million in June 2020, thanks to a strategic plan based around him,” Salas said.

Augmented Reality is another area where several football leagues and broadcasters are introducing new initiatives to improve supporters experience from home.

BT Sport recently launched AR features for its broadcast of Premier League matches which allow for real time statistics to appear on pitch during the live match broadcast.

A 360 degree view option was also introduced alongside a ‘Stadium Experience’ giving supporters the opportunity to take virtual tours of stadiums.

BT Sport Chief Operating Officer Jamie Hindhaugh told SportsPro that the new products were not gimmicks.

“I hope you agree that all of them give you something that replaces the fact you can’t physically be there. I think that they are all credible products and they are all future-looking,” he said.

“I think that you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we are able to do here, collectively – both for our audiences and also our own production.

“Combined with our brilliant remote 4K HDR [programming] and, alongside the [mobile] features that we now have in place, I think it’s a phenomenal offering. We don’t over-index on these things either. What this is about is augmenting the fan experience.”

Football Federation Australia doesn’t necessarily have to be innovative, there are major leagues and organisations worldwide in football that are launching new concepts and ideas. However, the A-League and FFA should be watching what these organisations are doing and introduce initiatives that have the potential to be successful in Australia.

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Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Federal government commit $250 million to upgrade AIS facilities

The federal government confirm they are committing $250 million to upgrade the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The funding will be put towards building a new high-performance training and testing centre, a multi-sport indoor dome, and an accommodation facility.

An independent review of the institute’s infrastructure found that in February, the AIS should stay in Canberra but needs a significant upgrade ahead of the games.

As a football outlook, the facilities don’t seem to help the development of young or professional footballers at all.

After the ‘FFA Centre of Excellence’ was discontinued in 2017, the AIS haven’t put a lot of focus into football and have left development purely up to Football Australia and the state federations.

The AIS upgrades in Canberra are seemingly leaving out football and the $250m is being spent on a purely Olympic outlook including athletics and swimming, in order to try and maximise the amount of gold medals Australia wins.

With the popularity of The Matildas rapidly growing with eight years before the Brisbane Olympics, the government should really be focusing on what they can do for football.

Federal Sports Minister Anika Wells discussed the government’s commitment to revitalise the AIS as a “world-standard facility.”

“When it was first built, the AIS was so successful in preparing our medal winning athletes that it was replicated by sporting nations around the world and became the benchmark for achieving athletic success,” she said in an statement.

“Today, our government is investing in the AIS, so we reach those benchmarks again as we commit to delivering world standard training facilities ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese commented on the importance of these upgrades for the country.

“We want to give our athletes the best chance of bringing home gold at Brisbane and every competition before and after those games,” he added in an statement.

“The upcoming budget will ensure the AIS remains in the capital, where it belongs, and ensure it once again becomes the world-leading high-performance centre it was designed to be.”

The AIS upgrades are fantastic for the country’s top athletes and the much needed improvements set the country up well for 2032, but the question lies, what are they doing for football?

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