EPTS expert group meets to conclude research phase

Following 4 years of consultation with industry and football stakeholders in which the key challenges were identified and determined, FIFA invited the members of its expert group to present the findings of the validation study of EPTS systems and launch the procedure for systems to be approved under this new Quality Programme.

Electronic Performance & Tracking Systems (EPTS) have been part of football for the last years and were introduced into the Laws of the Game in 2015 with a vision of developing minimum standards around player welfare and the performance of EPTS systems. The project started in 2015 when FIFA consulted key football stakeholders (leagues, federations and clubs alike) and gathered their input on how to best go about setting these standards. In addition, more than 30 companies were received in the fall of 2015 to get the industry’s take on the topic too and in order to assure that all parties were in agreement over the best way forward: setting global standards for EPTS in football. The output of this consultation were two research briefs addressing the two topics above (player welfare and data validity) that led to two leading research institutes being selected for the project.

Sheffield Hallam’s Centre for Sports Research Engineering carried out a comprehensive study to develop an impact assessment test method while Victoria University was selected for hosting two phases of data validation research of EPTS in football stadiums using VICON and computer vision as means of comparison.

The findings from the last phases of the above studies were presented to the expert group on 13 May in Zurich alongside the proposed certification scheme that any provider will be able to follow in order for their system to meet the FIFA Quality standard for both wearable and optical tracking systems. The project was met with overall approval but a clear consensus that this is only the first step in developing more refined standards that reflect challenges in football: real-time data validation, use of different stadium designs and push towards improving the thresholds of acceptable data validity. All the information for manufacturers and consumers on how to get a system approved and which systems have met the requirements will be available on the website of the FIFA Technology & Innovation Department as of July 2019.

With this meeting, FIFA concluded the step of introducing minimum standards for EPTS as per its mandate from the IFAB. The FIFA Quality Programme will continue to develop and adapt in accordance with technological progress as well as emphasising further-reaching needs in relation to performance tracking and football data for standardisation around data formats, interoperability and integration of various data sets to make analysis more pertinent with growing amounts of data and video being generated each game.

Image source: sample data from VU on Google maps