The symbiotic relationship between football, industry, and academia is deepening, creating opportunities to develop every facet of the game. The combination of new technology, research-led approaches, and football expertise is cultivating an environment where ideas can be developed, assessed, and implemented faster than ever. It is important to ensure that the implementation of these ideas benefit the world of football and are supported by evidence.
FIFA has created a dedicated Research and Standards department. Four key pillars – research, quality, innovation and data science – which allow FIFA to guide and monitor the latest technology advances in various areas, from football equipment to computer science. Within the FIFA Research and Standards department the FIFA Research Programme aims to:
- Collaborate with academia and industry to explore novel, evidence-based approaches to understand emergent technologies and their potential benefits for football,
- Enhance the impact of research by developing new organisational structures, establishing funding opportunities, growing networks, and exploring innovative approaches to communicate findings with diverse audiences.
The Topical Collection on Football Research in the journal Sports Engineering was launched to capture the latest research developments in football technology and increase awareness of future topics in football across academic, industry, and public audiences. The collection contains 15 papers that address current challenges in football, game analysis and player tracking technologies, officiating technologies, and football-surface, -player and -environment interaction.
Within the collection, an invited paper explores why women specific tailoring is needed in football. Having captured media attention, the paper identifies the unique challenges that female players experience due to the design and development of technology and football products around male players, as well as a lack of research for female specific challenges. The paper identifies where focus is needed and calls on industry, and academia to leverage new technologies and research methods to improve performance and health for female players. The Sports Engineering community is keen to explore ideas on how this topic can be further promoted.
The wide range of submissions published in the Topical Collection on Football Research demonstrates the impact that research can have to improve the game for the players, coaches, competition organisers, and fans. The conclusion of the collection aligns with the launch of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ to capitalise on the excitement surrounding the biggest female football event in history and to highlight important and ongoing research opportunities in football. Under the banner of ‘Beyond Greatness’, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™ urges individuals to push beyond their comfort zones, overcome uncertainty, and break down barriers. This philosophy resonates strongly within the spheres of sport, industry, and academia.