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Game Changers: Game Changers: Video assistant referee makes debut in Holland

A look at the technology and innovation currently making waves across the world of sport

Published in Sports Management Oct 2016 issue 127
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Family matters made easier to
manage for professional players

A new online ticketing platform is making it easier for professional sports clubs to manage the complimentary tickets which players and staff provide to family and friends.

In an age where corruption and ticketing irregularities within sports are constantly in the headlines, the new Player Pass system allows players and staff to electronically request tickets via an online portal and send a confirmation email to their guest notifying them that their requested tickets are available.

The new platform – developed by US-based Unity FI Solutions – allows sports clubs to easily keep an accurate record of the number of tickets that are distributed and how many are used, providing a secure, easy-to-use system that can be integrated into any sports organisation’s game-day operations.
“Player Pass is a cost-effective remedy to an antiquated process many teams still use to distribute complimentary tickets to loved ones,” said Matt Millward, director of ticket sales for the Charlotte Knights baseball team – one of the early adopters of the technology.

“This solution has been a great tool for our ticket operation and shows our commitment to integrating new technologies within our operation.”

Player Pass is a product from Unity FI’s recently expanded suite of services under the GameChanger banner. This division is focused on the payment processing, ticketing, concessions and other needs for a wide range of athletic organisations, including professional teams, schools and sports leagues. Player Pass is a product from this division.

Player Pass allows clubs to keep track of tickets issued to family and friends / pavel shutterstock
Player Pass allows clubs to keep track of tickets issued to family and friends/ pavel shutterstock

Manchester City’s new signing – a robot

English Premier League side Manchester City FC (MCFC) claims to be the first football club to sign a robotics partnership, after confirming a new global partnership deal with Chinese firm Ubtech Robotics.

The club said the deal will give supporters around the world the opportunity to enjoy exclusive content and “unique fan experiences”.

A leader in consumer robotics, Ubtech is the first company in China to design and manufacture humanoid robots.

The new partnership will introduce a series of co-branded Ubtech products across the club’s digital channels.
According to Tom Glick, MCFC’s group chief commercial officer, fans should also keep an eye out for robots at home games throughout the season.

“Partnering with Ubtech, a world leader in its field, is a natural fit for us,” Glick explained. “Together, we can reinvent the fan experience both at the Etihad Stadium and online by using pioneering technology and putting fans at the heart of the partnership.

Ubtech Robotics founder, James Zhou, said: “The partnership will bring cutting edge robotics technology and sports marketing together.

“We look forward to bringing the excitement of intelligent robots and ‘beautiful football’ together for all.”

Robots will be the new stars at MCFC
Robots will be the new stars at MCFC

Video assistant referee makes debut in Holland

A video assistant referee has been introduced at the top level of competitive professional football for the first time in the sport’s history.

Pol van Boekel, a professional referee, took charge of six TV screens during a Dutch cup game between Ajax and Willem II on 21 September at the Amsterdam Arena.

It took just 60 minutes for van Boekel to be cast into the spotlight, as he overturned the on-field referee Danny Makkelie’s decision to give a yellow card to Willem’s Anouar Kali. After reviewing the footage of the incident, van Boekel – communicating his decision through a headset – instructed Makkelie to send Kali off for dangerous play.

It was the first time TV assistance was used in on-field decision-making at a top level game. “I had a clear view of the incident and there was no doubt,” Van Boekel said. “I reviewed the offense and after a few seconds was able to relay the message to the on-field referee that it was a ‘100 per cent’ red card.”

FIFA gave its backing for the use of video referees in March this year and announced a trial period in which a number of games across six countries will feature the system.

While last month’s Dutch game was the first competitive match to feature the system, it was first used in a friendly match between France and Italy on 1 September this year.

Video assistant referees are being trialled at games across six countries
Video assistant referees are being trialled at games across six countries

Samsung and USA Basketball team up for groundbreaking VR scheme

Samsung Electronics America and USA Basketball have a groundbreaking new series, Chasing the Dream, providing an immersive look at the game of basketball through virtual reality (VR).

Spotlighting members of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team, the VR footage provided the players’ perspective in the weeks leading up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and took the viewer on a journey of what it feels like to be a professional athlete.

The content has been made available exclusively within the Samsung VR app, which users can access through Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, via the app or online at Samsungvr.com.

“As a leader in the virtual reality space, Samsung aims to be at the centre of culture by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with our technology, exploring new frontiers such as virtual reality and 360,” said Marc Mathieu, Samsung Electronics America’s chief marketing officer. “We’re thrilled to work with the NBA and USA Basketball to give fans an immersive, behind the scenes look at what it takes to be an athlete competing for Team USA in the Olympic Games.”

The series is the second part of Samsung’s Beyond the Frame programme, which creates and curates groundbreaking content and features some of the most influential creators in the field of virtual reality.

The VR footage shows fans how the game looks from a USA Basketball player’s perspective
The VR footage shows fans how the game looks from a USA Basketball player’s perspective
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