UEFA signs Memorandum of Understanding with European Space Agency
Monday, May 8, 2023
The new partnership will allow UEFA to assess the opportunity to leverage the space technologies developed by ESA and its ecosystem in European football.
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UEFA has today announced an agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), the first ever between the organisation dedicated to the exploration of space and a sports organisation. This partnership will enable UEFA to benefit from ESA’s network and expertise to address key challenges and generate new opportunities in football through innovative solutions.
This agreement is signed as part of the UEFA Innovation Hub’s mission to foster cross-industrial collaborations with a wide range of stakeholders from the innovation ecosystem, as a response to ever-changing habits and an increasingly demanding environment for football.
Andrea Traverso, UEFA director of financial sustainability and research:
"We are confident that this partnership with ESA will bring incredible value to UEFA. It is a way for us to address some of European football’s key strategic challenges by leveraging the expertise, network and resources of an innovative pioneer like ESA and explore joint collaborations in creating relevant and tangible solutions. This partnership also underlines UEFA’s ambition to nurture new types of cooperations to adapt ourselves even more rapidly in response to our current and future challenges."
Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, the European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the peaceful exploration and use of space for the benefit of everyone. ESA is active across every area of the space sector, bringing its benefits to people in everyday life, as well as to businesses.
Javier Benedicto, ESA acting director of telecommunications and integrated applications:
"We are proud to support UEFA as it introduces space-based innovation to professional football competitions. ESA has a strong track record of fostering innovation and competitiveness in Europe, and this new partnership will enable professional football clubs to tap into ESA’s extensive network of expertise."
Innovation and technology are at the core of this partnership. UEFA and ESA will therefore address the following topics in priority:
Pitch Mapping Tool:
ESA will bring its expertise to support the UEFA Grow team’s enhancements of UEFA’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) pitch detection tool, which is based on data and satellite imagery, by sourcing information that will improve the tool as it is developed over time (e.g. socio-economic data, weather data, health data, etc.). This enhanced tool will help UEFA support its 55 member national associations across Europe to cross-reference the presence of football pitches with their positive effects on local communities.
Crowd Management Solutions:
In collaboration with UEFA, ESA will run an open call for technologies on crowd management solutions. The goal is to allow tech providers in the ESA network to provide UEFA with more accurate data on the crowd movement around stadiums, and to allow UEFA to access the historical crowd data in specific venues.
ESA proposes to leverage the research they conduct with technology providers from the space industry on the topic of sustainability to explore the potential of those technologies to advance social and environmental solutions across European football.
The partnership between UEFA and ESA will run until 31 December 2025.