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World Premiere in Portugal's Football League: SELECT and KINEXON Generate Live Data with the iBall

The Liga Portugal Bwin is the first football league worldwide to use an official match ball with a tracking sensor inside. The league, SELECT and KINEXON put together a test case regarding accuracy, dependability and a possible implementation of ball and player tracking; and they found a clear answer to whether live data helps make a league more attractive for fans, media and sponsors. 

Kinexon Sports at Portugal Football League
MunichJun 09, 2022

It was too late to track the speed with which the ball hit the ground in front of Moreira’s Parque de Jogos Comendador Joaquim de Almeida Freitas. Once a player had kicked it over the stands after the final whistle, it was outside the data network set up inside the stadium where the world had just witnessed a world premiere. 

During the first leg of Portugal’s relegation playoffs, a league had used an official match ball with a tracking sensor inside for the first time ever. Teams, broadcasters and social-media departments received hundreds of tracking data that offered coaches, front offices and fans a multi-dimensional view of the game. 

SELECT Super Brillant iBall” with KINEXON UWB-Sensor: Realtime Motion Tracking Certified by FIFA 

Right before Portugal’s relegation playoffs between Moreirense FC and GD Chaves, SELECT’s Super Brilliant iBall” had received the FIFA Quality Pro” certificate, which is required for the use in official matches. 

The iBall’s most significant feature: inside, it has KINEXON’s 14g-light UWB-Sensor that communicates with KINEXON’s UWB-based LPS-network during a match. It is also important to note that players do not feel any difference compared to a regular ball without a tracking sensor. 

The system tracks all movement on the pitch three-dimensionally with centimetre precision in real-time. Additionally, Moreirense and Chaves players wore performance vests with KINEXON sensors under their jerseys to track their movements with the same three-dimensional centimetre precision in real-time.

Kinexon iBall Football Data Sheet

Over 300 Metrics for Fans, Teams and the League

Sprint‑, ball-and shot speed. Acceleration. Running distance. Number of Sprints. Effective playing time. The system tracked over 300 metrics during the match. 

Among them were also possession time of teams and individual players, a pass’s verticality, the ball’s trajectory before a goal, and even the amount of time a player needs to pass or shoot after receiving the ball. 

To generate aimed insights and high-quality stats graphics from all this data with the game still going, KINEXON additionally sent a data journalist. 

The league’s TV partner integrated the metrics into the broadcast, while the league’s social media channels provided the fans with visually sophisticated stats posts. 

Users found out that Paulinho’s winning strike for Moreirense in the second leg came from 14.54 meters at 68,58 km/​h. Plus, fans saw that GD Chaves’s João Correira turned out to be the fastest dribbler (17.37 km/​h on average).

His teammate Alexsandro became the second leg’s man of the match with 35 accelerations and a top speed of 33.72 km/​h while running 8277 metres, recovering 9 balls and playing 30 passes. 

KINEXON Provides Teams and League with Data Insights

Via the KINEXON Sports App, the two teams were able to evaluate all data generated during the two matches. Additionally, SELECT and KINEXON provided the Liga Portugal Bwin with a data-insight portfolio.

Pass maps, for example, showed that Chaves’ accuracy increased in the second half (52 to 55 per cent), while Moreirense’s dropped from 64 per cent in the first half to 55 in the second. 

First steps towards a holistic approach of live data analysis 

By making ball tracking data available live for the first time, it was also possible to view statistics not just isolated, but to look at technical and physical performance metrics in the context of tactics insights. 

For example, in the Instagram Stories of the League Portugal bwin, fans could see how and where balls were lost and how this related to the speed of the game. 

Kinexon Software on football pitch with media and players

League, Fans and Teams Enjoy the Live-Data Insights Provided by the SELECT iBall

Both clubs, as well as the league, were happy with the premiere. The coaches agreed with each other that the data had made their jobs easier and more efficient. 

Therefore, they both aim to study the tracking system more profoundly and implement it in their training sessions. The league deemed the premiere a success that provided essential learnings. 

As a next step, the board plans to examine how and where the league can use the SELECT iBall on a larger scale. In a survey after the match, 80 per cent of the fans asked claimed that they had enjoyed the data insights delivered by SELECT and KINEXON

The only thing still missing is the ball a player had kicked over the stands. Maybe some kids of Moreira now use it to play on the streets. There, however, it will not provide any live data…

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