Digitalization and How It Changes Football

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Digitalization does not stop at the world’s most popular sport, football. Technology is already helping to make the right decisions on the pitch and has an impact on communication with fans, just the way hesgoal does. Hesgoal is a football live streaming news site that features the latest news and information in various sports, particularly football.

We spoke to digitalization expert Jan C. Rode and asked him about the future of sports in the digital age.

How much digitalization can football tolerate on the pitch? Even the introduction of modern goal-line technology has caused broad discussions and some resistance.

Football and other sports are sometimes quite resistant to advice when it comes to digital possibilities. When it comes to technology-based rule changes, this is usually done for marketing reasons. Another goal is to increase visibility on TV. Since everything in football is always a little more emotional, the goal-line technique was also discussed accordingly. In a few months, however, this will be the norm and maybe there will soon be referees who, as in hockey or American football, will verify the decisions on the field on the screen again. The downside, however, is that professional sport will move further and further away from its amateur base.

What digital innovations on the pitch could you imagine? Is the usefulness for players and coaches more in the foreground or the experience for the consumer?

Clubs and athletes are already using sensors in training to log their performance and improve it accordingly. Data collected during the game can also provide completely new perspectives for TV viewers.

In the USA, for example, visitors have the opportunity to order food and drinks on the pitch via app or to follow the most important game scenes. However, I do not believe that we will see such offers outside the VIP area, because football culture plays a different role in this country. For most spectators, the most important thing is still to be able to access the Internet in a stable way during the half-time break when they are waiting in the bratwurst queue.

The downside, however, is that professional sport will move further and further away from its amateur base.

The idea of watching games and being able to retrieve information about players or statistics in real-time fascinates not only the viewer. What role could augmented reality play in-game analysis?

For game analysis, cameras are already sufficient to study the routes and pass routes. Augmented reality will only be interesting for the fan if, for example, leagues such as the NFL, NBA, and MLB market their content directly and use the new technology to bring the living room into the stadium. But as long as the television stations in Germany and Europe hold the rights, the development will be much slower. Sky expects its viewers, for example, at the top game of the week per half-time only a few augmented graphics with live data. In the so-called player tracking, running paths are then measured and analyzed, and also speed, mileage, ball contacts, or diamond formations of the players are graphically displayed.

Do you think it is conceivable that we will be able to watch football matches virtually, live, and in every stadium in the world in the future? Are there already considerations or plans in this direction?

Virtual reality is certainly one of the most discussed topics within sports marketing and is already being used by quarterbacks to prepare for the game. Should the breakthrough really succeed in 2016, the Champions League final could be experienced live in the fan curve anywhere in the world. Cinemas have already gained some experience with the transmission of live events.

Augmented reality becomes interesting when leagues use the new technology to bring the living room into the stadium.


Every player today seems to have a Twitter and Instagram account. What role do digital means of communication play in football? Has digitalization finally led to the fact that everything and everyone in football is a brand?

Yes, at the end of the day, that’s the result. Ronaldo, Neymar, and Messi not only have the most fans on social media, but also the highest salaries and best-paid advertising contracts. In addition, they regularly share the top places in honors and awards. Here, however, the development in football is no different than in the other parts of society: What cannot be found online no longer seems to exist in reality.

Do you think communication via digital media has made football and football clubs even more popular?

That’s right because media diversity has grown strongly with online media. In addition, the athletes have now found a way to communicate directly with their fans. From these appetizers, messages are then built and declared as news. In my opinion, many rapporteurs regularly overshoot the mark here. Football fans know that with three defeats at the beginning of the season, the mood is bad, but relegation is far from sealed.

Despite digital media such as live tickers, the stadiums are full and the ratings are high. Could digital media still completely replace the traditional live experience at some point?

Due to the scandals at the IOC, FIFA, and also DFB, the sport as a whole could continue to come under social and media pressure, so that the attendance records of yesteryear will no longer be reached. Even certain boredom in the league could reduce the desire to visit the stadium, after all, the same clubs always play for championship and relegation. Therefore, it is important for those responsible to market their content digitally better and to expand the whole thing further.