Feature Story

Soccer’s newest tech transforms the game

by Stephanie Chan

Soccer's newest tech transforms the game

New sports innovations create a better experience for teams and viewers alike.

New technology used in this year's big soccer tournament in Russia is almost as exciting as the games. These innovations are changing the way referees make decisions, and even how fans experience the games at home.

While many are used to real human referees calling the shots during soccer, technology called VAR is using video to aid in decisions. According to Forbes, there are certain "game changing situations" like goals and red cards that might need a second look. VAR is made up of a video assistant referee team who can talk to on-site referees using a radio system. In the future, the "VAR Information System" will alert broadcasters and commentators that VAR was used in the making of a call.

Fans want to be able to experience the best, most immersive games possible. For them, this year's tournament included 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) broadcast technology. The BBC also has a virtual reality feed on their BBC Sport VR app that allows viewers to feel as though they are at the actual game.

Fan experience is a large part of sports entertainment, and Cisco makes sure that viewers are taken care of with end-to-end solutions. For example, when the Atlanta Braves moved from Turner Field to their new stadium SunTrust Park, the Braves' IT department needed to outfit the park with new technology. The Braves now use a single, unified network in the entire complex that enables services, analytics, security, collaboration, and more. Digital signage in the park lets attendees discover where they need to go, and Wi-Fi allows fans to capture special moments on social media.

Similarly, Cisco transformed the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust with its connected sports and entertainment solutions.  With 2 million people a year visiting the Sydney Grounds, the stadium needed the infrastructure to help fans feel an immersive and personalized experience. Cisco Connected Stadium creates a customer journey that follows a fan throughout the game— from when they arrive with a welcome message on their mobile app to tailored content on TVs inside the stadium. Not only can fans use the public Wi-Fi, but Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust can take the analytics from that usage to create better experiences for the future.

Even Cisco employees are getting into the soccer game excitement. See how the sport connected some employees in Austria here.


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