DFL targets start-ups with equity investment venture

The German Football League (DFL) has launched a new venture targeting shareholdings in start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises, with an Israeli technology firm the first beneficiary of this investment.

DFL for Equity has been created as the DFL seeks to become the first football league to create a portfolio of investments in innovative and promising companies in the media, technology and sports industries. It will acquire shares in companies primarily through intangible assets, but also through collaborations with further partners.

The DFL’s stake of around 10 per cent in Track160 secures it a variable deferred profit share. In return, Track160 will gain access to the DFL’s match database and digital football archive, enabling it to develop its artificial-intelligence-based analytics system faster and, with the aid of the DFL network, to grow rapidly both at home and abroad.

“Track160’s system will find application in future-oriented fields such as match analytics, coaching, sports medicine, media offerings, and gaming,” DFL chief executive Christian Seifert (pictured) said. “The start-up is developing a system based on artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning that will capture in 3D form the motions of the players and the trajectory of the ball.

“Unlike the systems currently in use around the world, the Track160 system uses only the match video and does not need GPS or other wearable sensors, expensive hardware or human operators, making it an interesting proposition not only for elite teams, but also for amateur clubs of all divisions.”

Prior to acquiring a stake in the start-up, the DFL stated that it conducted a thorough due diligence process. Miky Tamir, co-founder and chairman of Track160, said: “We are excited about the new opportunities our partnership with DFL will open up for us. The sportstech industry is transitioning to a new era, one in which data and AI-based technologies will make fascinating new applications possible. We want to revolutionise the world of sports with disruptive new coaching, media, scouting and gaming applications.”

Commenting on the wider goals of DFL for Equity, Seifert added: “DFL’s ability to systematically cover the media value chain is what sets it apart in the arena of international football. In the interests of both the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga clubs, we want to draw much greater benefit in the future from the positive growth of companies that are closely allied with DFL.”