DAY 2Track 1

Big Data and Analytics in Football (soccer): Keeping AI on the Ball

In recent years there has been a surge in the impact of big data, analytics and artificial intelligence in professional football (soccer). One of the main reasons for this is a vast increase in the amount of performance related data that can be  generated during games. Modern player tracking systems can record the position of each player on the field between 10-20 times per second and when combined with event data, this results in millions of data points being generated per game. Several top professional clubs in Europe now have their own analytics department with data scientists and engineers working across different departments.

Using data to support the decision making process of new signings in the transfer market is not new but data is now being used to give objective insights that were not previously possible. Identifying factors that can reduce the risk of injury is another area that analytics can support. Last season in the English Premier league alone, the salaries of injured players totaled $330 million US dollars. One of the most challenging, yet sought after uses of data generated during games, is to support the preparation and subsequent evaluation of the performance of individual players and the team. This presentation will focus on how analytics is being used in professional football, the growing benefits and highlight the possibilities and challenges that lie ahead.



Paul Balsom Leicester City, Head of Sports Science

Dr Paul Balsom is a highly experienced high performance football practitioner and pro-qualified coach, with over 20 years of international experience at the highest level of FIFA / UEFA football match activities. He has a successful track record in the effective delivery of best practice performance and enhancing scientific support solutions in professional football. This is based on up to date knowledge and utilisation of latest technologies and large data sets to minimise risk and improve decision making for a variety of stakeholders.

He is currently Head of Performance Innovation at Leicester City F.C. and was part of their backroom staff during the 2015-16 season when they became only the 6th team to win the English Premier League.

He is also Performance Manager for the Swedish National Men’s team and has participated in 5 UEFA Euro and 3 FIFA World Cup final tournaments. In the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Sweden reached the quarter-finals.