Innovation in football: where are we heading?

The increasingly important role technology and innovations are having on every sport cannot be ignored. From pioneering rehabilitation techniques to the explosion of social media, innovations are sweeping through the sport industry in a manner never seen before. Like many new things however, enthusiasm is always followed by initial skepticism. This is especially true for sport industry, which has historically shown strong resistance to technological disruption, and is still today largely comprised of traditional jobs and enterprises that are reluctant to adapt.
digital trackers will be ever more present in our livelihoods
Nonetheless, for an industry that makes up 1% of the world GDP, innovating is increasingly becoming a desperate need more than a mere want. With sports witnessing an innovation storm and its outcome still unclear, it is natural to ask where sports are heading, what new business opportunities will emerge from the disruption and how this industry will still be fresh and engaging to customers.
In the large environment defining the wellness industry, Technogym stands out as one of the most prominent technological leaders. As the name itself may suggest, Technogym is the synonym of technological innovation for sportsmen. Today, the company is at a crucial turning point, providing state of the art fitness equipment and evolving into a wellness company. The latest example of its evolution is the SKILL LINE, which comprises of SKILLMILL, SKILLRUN and SKILLROW. This line has not only been specifically designed for athletes and sports enthusiasts alike, but provides also numerous real time biometrics for performance analysis and benchmarking.
Skillmill is the perfect treadmill for sports and rehabilitation training
Out of every sport, football is by far the most heavily influenced sport of the whole industry. With the rise of fantasy sports, new ways to provide data and innovative systems of monetization, there is a huge interest from football clubs, investors, healthcare practitioners and every other stakeholder to be the technological forerunner and become the early adopter of its industry. Hype Sports Innovation, the largest global platform for sports innovation, has decided to take up the challenge, organizing a Summit on the future of football and inviting every key player to participate.

Hype Summit on the Future of Sports

In occasion of the kick off of Russia’s football World Cup, this June Hype Sports Innovation held one of its most important events, the Hype Global Summit, in Moscow.

The event focused around new and pioneering solutions centered on the world of football and more than 300 startups worldwide applied to the event, with only 19 from 11 different countries having the chance of displaying their project to brands like UEFA, Adidas, Spalding, Silicon Valley Bank, Asics, Google, and more at the initial expo. Such projects centred around fan engagement, virtual reality, performance and analytics, coaching and broadcasting. The event continued with panel discussions led by leaders from clubs, federations and brands such as UEFA, FC Dynamo-Moscow, Manchester United, SAP, Russian Olympic Committee, La Liga, and FC Zenit among others. Furthermore, the summit featured global leaders that discussed the challenges of the football industry and the innovative solutions that are likely to shape it in the coming years.

Shattering old schemes through disruptive innovation
The topics discussed in the summit revolved around the following main panels:

  • Engaging Fans Through eSports - Yay or Nay?
  • Real-Time Data on the Bench- Will Performance Analysis Replace Coaching?
  • Beyond Broadcasting - New Content Generation and Monetization
The summit followed with a startup competition, where only 8 companies from 7 countries had the chance to pitch their projects in from of a jury of 16, among which clubs, brands and federation’s representatives took part. The HYPE Summit concluded with the award of VEO, a Danish startup that is developing a new sports camera, able to record automatically sports actions or whole matches and generate data and statistics for trainers and players alike. So far, the product is still in alpha test, but it is already being used by 18 different football clubs in Denmark and enhanced by VEO’s developers for further uses. The second place was awarded to Tokabot, an intelligent platform currently being developed in Israel, which enables unique interaction (through engagement and monetization) with football fans. The Spanish startup Soccerdream, which is developing a virtual reality platform to boost football players’ performance, won the third place. The awards were given symbolically a few hours before the first World Cup match began.

Technogym’s role in football innovation

Technogym’s commitment in the world of football is almost as old as the company itself. Since 1986, Technogym has been official supplier to AC Milan, helping football players to improve their strength, power and stamina performances or in their rehabilitation from muscle injuries with state of the art equipment. Today, Technogym is the official supplier of some of the largest football clubs in the world, among which Inter FC, Chelsea FC and Barcelona FC. Furthermore, it stands out as one of the biggest Italian players of Russia 2018, being the official supplier for both the Russian and Brazilian teams.

As the technological forerunner of the fitness and wellness industry, the struggle to turn football into the sport of the future is crucial for Technogym. That’s why it could not draw back from the challenge posed by the Hype Summit, participating to this important event and helping to clear out some of the doubts surrounding football innovations.

Among others, Technogym is official supplier to Inter FC
Francesco Cuzzolin, Director of the Scientific Department at Technogym, was the ambassador Technogym sent to be present at this very important venue, moderating the panel “Real-Time Data on the Bench- Will Performance Analysis Replace Coaching?” This panel discussion was centred around the way technology is providing today new feeds on, among others, player’s performance, training load and injuries risk, and on how football teams are interpreting such data from an athletic and operational point of view. This debate is extremely important these days, since a lot of clubs are reluctant to rely heavily on digital information, preferring the experience of trainers and staff members, whereas other clubs are going to the opposite direction, relying solely on technological feeds and leaving aside human experience. The goal of the panel was to sketch how a good balance between human and technological innovation in the world of sports may look like, foreseeing what the future challenges in this industry will look like. At the end of the panel session Mr. Cuzzolin commented:

It was amazing to see the startups and their innovative solutions. The HYPE Summit for me was an essential event that brought up the most urgent questions and challenges that the industry faces nowadays

The Summit saw the presence of many representatives from football organisations, teams and stakeholders
Both the panel sessions and the startup competition were attended by very important sports industry representatives, among which Bernd Wahler, chairman of Hype Sport Innovation Board and former CMO at Adidas, Rod Nenner, VP at Washington Redskins, and Marco Suvilaakso, Global Product Director at Polar.

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