Football’s German Bundesliga has delivered 5G mobile communications technology during a match for the first time, with VfL Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena becoming the first stadium to trial the coverage.
The German Football League (DFL) and telecommunications company Vodafone activated the 5G infrastructure during Wolfsburg’s 1-1 draw against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Monday night.
During the match, selected fans were able to test the prototype of a new real-time app that Vodafone and the DFL have developed in partnership with immersive.io, a French company which specialises in elevating the sports fan experience through augmented reality.
The app allows fans to receive match statistics and players’ individual values directly on their smartphones. The app will eventually allow fans to see how quickly a player is running and how successful his previous shots on goal were.
Vodafone Deutschland chief executive Hannes Ametsreiter said: “We are expanding the stadium experience for football fans. Information from the digital world and emotions from the stadium are melting together. In the future, statistics fans will be able use their smartphone to view all the information in real time that is otherwise available only on the ‘Sportschau’ in the evening.”
Vodafone has installed 5G antennas and its own small computer centre at the Volkswagen Arena, directly under the stadium roof. The data is able to reach fans’ smartphones in real time as it does not have far to travel.
Approximately 3.6 million position data points and 1,600 match events per game are collected and distributed by DFL subsidiary Sportec Solutions, whose expertise has been harnessed to introduce a new visual tracking system for the current season from service provider ChyronHego. The system makes it possible to capture all players, the ball and the referees more precisely and automatically.
Wolfbsurg chief executive Michael Meeske added: “We are very excited to be part of the pioneering 5G work as one of the innovation drivers of the Bundesliga.
“We would like to thank our partners, the DFL and Vodafone, for the confidence they have shown in us and can look back on a successful premiere in the Volkswagen Arena. The preparation of relevant live data for mobile devices will make the stadium experience of the future even more exciting and interactive for all fans.”
The DFL and Vodafone will look to activate 5G in more Bundesliga stadia and add more features to the app. The two parties announced in July that they would be working together to deliver 5G coverage across the Bundesliga and the second-tier 2.Bundesliga as part of a two-year cooperation.
Click here for the SportBusiness Professional feature on the Bundesliga’s 5G launch.