Footballing stakeholders come together to look for innovative solutions to help football during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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UEFA has teamed up with a number of leading football organisations, including the City Football Group, Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), AFC Ajax and the Johan Cruijff ArenA, in order to tackle challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The need for innovation and the ability to adapt quickly to changing trends and circumstances in European football have become more and more apparent, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Andrea Traverso, UEFA director of financial sustainability and research.
“Partnering with leading industry stakeholders to tackle the challenges European football is facing today and tomorrow is of key importance to UEFA and its UEFA Innovation Hub. We strongly believe innovation is a ‘team sport’ and our Reimagine Football initiative has enabled stakeholders to engage united with start-ups to find innovative solutions to the new challenges our sport is facing.”
Challenging companies worldwide
Through the Reimagine Football project, the UEFA Innovation Hub has challenged companies worldwide, ranging from start-ups to established corporations, to come up with innovative ideas to help football in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic:
- How to keep fans engaged while they are unable to physically attend matches at stadiums
- How to create a safe and engaging environment for supporters
- How to enable youth and amateurs to keep playing and enjoying football
“The way fans and players want to experience football is changing quickly. Therefore, innovation is one of our five strategic themes at the KNVB, with specific focus on association-specific topics like amateur football competitions and referee technology,” said Gijs de Jong, general secretary of the KNVB.
“Reimagine Football is a great example of how leading football organisations cooperate closely in the field of innovation. It shows how we can activate companies to share their ideas and how sharing knowledge and expertise within the football community can make the game’s development better and faster. We aim for long-term cooperation to continuously develop football together!”
The Reimagine Football challenge resulted in 329 submissions from 38 different countries. Experts from the Football Innovation Platform – comprising City Football Group, KNVB, Ajax and Johan Cruijff ArenA – selected 27 entries, which were invited to pitch their ideas to the international football community during an online event.
Who are the winners?
The jury, consisting of Gijs de Jong (KNVB general secretary), Jean-Paul Decossaux (KNVB commercial director), Henk van Raan (Johan Cruijff ArenA facility director), Nuria Tarré (City Football Group chief marketing officer), Andrea Traverso (UEFA director of financial sustainability and research) and Menno Geelen (Ajax commercial director) picked six winners:
Fans at home category
- Livelike – A social platform for fans that gives an extra dimension to the football experience through a combination of social interaction, gamification and entertainment.
Stadium operation category
- Signify – Technology whereby the air in a stadium can be disinfected by means of UVC radiation, so reducing the risk of airborne corona contamination.
Stadium visitors category
- Immersiv.io – An application that allows stadium visitors to see live match information and player statistics using augmented reality.
- Close – A technology that enables fans to receive exclusive information and communicate with other fans to enjoy the match together.
Amateur football category
- B42 – An app that offers the possibility to remotely guide players in their rehabilitation from injuries.
- Humanox – Shin guards equipped with sensors that measure and provide insight into player performance data via an online platform.
Members of the Football Innovation Platform and the 27 chosen finalists will use the coming period to further investigate how the solutions can be applied in practice at the stadium, with media content, or at amateur pitches.