ESA to help UEFA scale soccer heights



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UEFA partners with European Space Agency Image: Coliseum GSVA

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) recently announced an agreement with the European Space Agency (ESA), the first ever between the organization dedicated to the exploration of space and a sports organisation. This partnership will enable the UEFA to benefit from ESA’s network and expertise to address key challenges and generate new opportunities in football through innovative solutions.

‘UEFA’ stated that the above agreement has been 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 the ever-changing habits and an increasingly demanding environment for football.

Nyon (Switzerland)-based the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is one of six continental bodies of governance in association football. It governs football, futsal and beach football in Europe and the transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and Kazakhstan, as well as some Asian countries such as Israel, Cyprus and Armenia. The UEFA consists of 55 national association members. Because of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the FIFA and UEFA suspended all Russian national teams and clubs from any FIFA and UEFA competitions.

Established in 1975 and headquartered in Paris, France, the European Space Agency (ESA) is an interGovernmental organization of 22 Member-States dedicated to the peaceful exploration and use of space for the benefit of everyone. The ESA is active across every area of the space sector bringing its benefits to people in everyday life as well as to businesses.

Asserted Andrea Traverso, UEFA Director of Financial Sustainability and Research, “We are confident that this partnership with the ESA will bring incredible value to the 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 the 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.”

‘UEFA’ quoted Javier Benedicto, ESA Acting Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, as stating, “We are proud to support UEFA as it introduces space-based innovation to professional football competitions. The 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. The UEFA and ESA will, therefore, address the following topics in priority:
 

Pitch Mapping Tool:

The 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 the UEFA support its 55-member national associations across Europe to cross-reference the presence of football pitches with their positive effects on the local communities.
 

Crowd Management Solutions:

In collaboration with the UEFA, the 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.
 

Sustainability:

The 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 the UEFA and the ESA will run until December 31st, 2025.

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