EURO 2024: The Role of Advanced Technology in Modern Soccer

At Euro 2024, soccer has undergone a transformation thanks to advanced technology that is now an essential part of "the world's most important sideline"

by Sededin Dedovic
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EURO 2024: The Role of Advanced Technology in Modern Soccer
© Maja Hitij / Getty Images

At the ongoing EURO 2024, from smart soccer balls and artificial intelligence to cryogenic recovery chambers, soccer is being transformed thanks to the latest technology available to players, coaches, and officials. This is particularly evident at the ongoing European Championship, where advancements in areas such as equipment and sports science are applied both on and off the field to improve the game, fan experience, and player welfare.

However, not everyone at EURO 2024 is thrilled with all the innovations. For example, there are still complaints about VAR decisions—just as there were before VAR was introduced. Nevertheless, the world's most popular sport continues to be influenced by rapidly developing technologies.

VAR decisions have generally been smoother here than, for example, in the Premier League last season. UEFA uses semi-automated offside technology, along with artificial intelligence and Adidas's connected ball technology, to speed up the review process and improve accuracy.

EURO 2024 VAR

Ten cameras are installed in each of the host stadiums, which, according to UEFA, track 29 different points on each player's body. Combined with the official tournament ball, which has a sensor to detect every touch and AI algorithms, the decision-making process should be faster and more accurate than before.

Perhaps too accurate for some, as Belgian Romelu Lukaku had three goals disallowed in his first two matches—two for offside and one for a handball by his teammate Loïs Openda in the buildup, detected by the ball sensor.

Romelu Lukaku of Belgium shoots whilst under pressure from Oleksandr Svatok and Illia Zabarnyi of Ukraine during the UEFA EURO 2© Carl Recine / Getty Images

Goal-line technology at EURO 2024 has ended debates about borderline decisions regarding whether the ball crossed the line.

Seven cameras are in each goal, and a signal is sent to the referee's watch, which vibrates if the ball crosses the line. UEFA says the results arrive within one second of the action. While the Adidas Fussballliebe, the official ball for EURO 2024, helps with offside calls, it also seems popular among players.

It is made from recycled polyester and other materials, including corn fibers, sugar cane, and wood pulp, and players have praised its speed and distance. This could be seen by the number of incredible long-range goals scored during the group stage, such as Arda Güler's curling shot from around 20 meters in Turkey's 3-1 win against Georgia.

Wearable Devices

Coaches try to find an edge wherever they can, so England players have been seen wearing smart rings. “The idea is to help monitor sleep, which is the most important factor in recovery,” said England manager Gareth Southgate.

“So, regardless of what is invented in the world, the best things for recovery are sleep and nutrition. We don't monitor the players, but it allows them to track their recovery”. Cristiano Ronaldo is an ambassador for a wristband that monitors sleep and biometric data such as cardiovascular and muscle load.

Southgate also wears a smartwatch that costs $6,500, has its own tracking capabilities, and also provides score alerts during the tournament. An unexpected wearable device is Kylian Mbappe’s custom-made protective mask.

The French forward had to wear it after suffering a nose fracture in his first match.

Kylian Mbappe of France charges for the ball, whilst wearing a Black Protective Face Mask after breaking his nose during the Gro© Kevin C.

Cox / Getty Images

Player Recovery Treatment

Teams have a range of recovery devices to help players cope with the congested tournament schedule. The Spanish team's base at EURO 2024 in Donaueschingen has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, cryo chamber, and phototherapy bed to speed up muscle recovery after training or matches.

The hyperbaric oxygen chamber is used for inhaling 100% pure oxygen. Cryo treatment involves the use of cold temperatures, while phototherapy uses light. “This works wonders after the intense matches we have here at the Euros.

Anything that can give us an edge, we'll use,” said Spanish forward Nico Williams on Instagram. England captain Harry Kane uses air compression boots, which massage players' legs and increase circulation.

Leisure Time at EURO 2024

Boredom can be one of the biggest problems during a long tournament, with players spending time away from home and their families and friends.

They are often seen arriving at stadiums with their advanced noise-canceling headphones. However, not every player uses the latest technology—England's Cole Palmer was seen with wired headphones. Personal devices are essential, with smartphones, tablets, and gaming devices usually close by.

German Kai Havertz was seen carrying a popular video game console while leaving the team bus, according to AP News. The German EURO 2024 team's base in Herzogenaurach also has a large cinema screen next to the outdoor pool.

Not all devices are just for entertainment or distraction. For 16-year-old Spanish winger Lamine Yamal, leisure time can be filled with catching up on homework on his tablet. That's how far it goes.

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