‘The Smurfs’ home to boast tech muscle


KRC Genk stadium naming rights Image: KRC Genk & Cegeka

The IT service management company Cegeka has become the new title sponsor of the Belgian professional football club Racing Genk’s stadium (Belgium), expanding a relationship that goes back to the Summer of 2019.

The ‘Consultancy.eu’ stated that two years ago, the Belgium-headquartered IT services group (over 6.000 employees in 11 countries) first forged a partnership with Belgium’s 2018-2019 champions, becoming an official sponsor of the football club. Now, that relationship has been expanded to include the stadium, which has a capacity of just over 23,000 seats.

Racing Genk or simply Genk is a Belgian professional football club based in the City of Genk in Belgian Limburg. Racing Genk plays in the Belgian Pro League and has won four championship titles – in 1998-1999, in 2001-2002, in 2010-2011, and in 2018-2019.

The Cegeka Arena is a multipurpose stadium in Genk, Belgium. It is currently used mostly for football matches and is the home ground of Racing Genk. The stadium holds 23,718 spectators and was built in 1999. Heusden-Zolder played at this stadium for their single season at the top level in 2003-2004.

The ‘Consultancy.eu’ further stated that the 10-year sponsorship deal will see the stadium rebrand from the Luminus Arena (named after the previous sponsor, energy company Luminus) to the Cegeka Arena. The IT group becomes the third stadium title sponsor since the turn of the century, following Luminus and Alken-Maes (a Belgian brewery). Previous names of the stadium (built in 1999) were Cristal Arena and the Fenix Stadium.

As part of the deal, Cegeka will apply its technology capabilities to turn the Cegeka Arena into the country’s first 5G stadium, informed Racing Genk (formally KRC Genk) President Peter Croonen in a statement – “Using this technology will provide us with wonderful opportunities across several areas.”

For one, 5G can benefit the team. Using real-time data of players tracked by sensors across the pitch and stadium (known as ‘Internet of Things [IoT]’ technology), the coach (the Dutchman John van den Brom) and his staff can gain in-depth insight into player performance. Leveraging this information, they will be able to help players improve their game, and lift the team’s overall performance.

The IoT landscape will also help the football club better manage how it operates its stadium (example: Crowd management) and provide opportunities to enhance the fan experience.

Explained Croonen, “We can provide them digital experiences based on virtual and augmented reality.”

Racing Genk’s Commercial Director Davy Vanhaen, who replaced 20-year club veteran Stephan Poelmans at the start of this year, maintained, “It is an honor to be able to engage in this innovative technology partnership with Cegeka. It will provide both of us a launch pad into the future.”

Stijn Bijnens, CEO, Cegeka, described Racing Genk as an ideal partner for the company’s ambitions – “The Cegeka Arena will deliver a major positive impact to our brand reputation. And the stadium will provide us with a great testing ground for advancing our 5G technologies and expertise.”

According to a recent study by Analysys Mason, the benefits of 5G to Europe’s economy could be huge, adding over €200 billion in value added in the coming years. The technology can benefit a vast range of sectors, from manufacturing and aviation to events and sports.

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