UEFA and ESA sign partnership to bring more space into sport

  • UEFA and the ESA have signed an agreement which will see the football association employing space tech on the ground.
  • The applications include pitch mapping and even crowd monitoring solutions.
  • There is also potential for UEFA to sit at the cutting edge of broadcast and telecommunications solutions thanks to a partnership with ESA.

Toward the end of 2022 a stampede at a football stadium in Indonesia saw more than 130 lives lost. Now a partnership between UEFA and the European Space Agency (ESA) seeks to use space tech to help sports fans on the ground.

The partnership between the odd couple was announced today at the Spot Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. The partnership aims to support the introduction of space-based innovation in professional football competitions.

“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 challenge,” director of financial sustainability and research at UEFA, Andrea Traverso, said.

How exactly will space help sports?

One way that UEFA mentions is through 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,” the football union wrote in a media release.

This could help plan for larger events such as finals or matches involving incredibly popular teams. More so, it can help organisers plan their schedules out and avoid areas of high tension.

One interesting proposal is a pitch mapping tool. This could give UEFA’s 55 national associations access to data that could showcase the effect of football stadiums on a community.

In addition, UEFA could use space for communications and other myriad applications that aren’t all that easy on the ground. The fact is that this agreement gives UEFA scope to explore new technology with backing from the ESA to guide it.

“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,” acting director of telecommunications and integrated applications at ESA, Javier Benedicto said in a statement.

“Keeping European football fans safe as they experience the joy and the heartbreak of the beautiful game is paramount. Importantly, this project will also explore how space data can promote the environmental and economic sustainability of football in Europe to ensure that all fans can enjoy it in the future. I am delighted that ESA’s partnership with UEFA will use space to improve life on Earth,” Benedicto added.

Slightly further away from Earth, ESA is currently working to deploy the RIME antenna on its JUICE spacecraft. The spacecraft which will help study Jupiter’s Moons is en route to its final destination but has experienced a problem. That having been said, the RIME antenna is moving albeit slowly.

The agency said in a statement last month that there are two months of planned commissioning for JUICE, so there is still plenty of time for RIME to be deployed.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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