How will AI be used at the football European Championships this summer?

It’s been three years since Gianluigi Donnarumma saved Bukayo Saka’s penalty to crown Italy champions of Europe in front of a sold-out Wembley Stadium in London.

This week, hosts Germany kick off UEFA EURO 2024 against Scotland in Munich in what has been billed as one of the most open football European Championships in years.

As always with major sporting tournaments, there will be highs and hysteria, heartbreak and hurt, but this year, there promises to be an influx of innovation and technology taking top-level sport into today’s data-driven world.


So, as technology combines with sport, let’s explore how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a starring role in the European Championship 2024.

UEFA Euro 2024: When, where and what is it?

The UEFA European Championships take place every four years. The last tournament was held in multiple cities across Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the tournament, after being postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, hence UEFA EURO 2020 taking place in 2021.

With games played in 10 host cities across Germany, the European Championship 2024 returns to its traditional format of one host nation. In Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Dortmund, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Düsseldorf, Leipzig and Stuttgart, 24 European nations will compete against each other from Friday 14 June until Sunday 14 July.

UEFA EURO 2024 will be the 17th edition of Europe’s premier competition organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). From the 53 teams that vied for qualification between March 2023 and March 2024, 23 teams successfully joined the host nation Germany in this year’s championship.

The tournament uses a round-robin group stage followed by a single-elimination knockout stage to decide the winner, with this year’s final being held at the Olympiastadion in Germany’s capital, Berlin.

What AI technology will be used at UEFA EURO 2024?

As with most industries, AI has gripped the sporting landscape and transformed the way it is played, viewed and consumed. Since UEFA EURO 2020, players like England’s Jude Bellingham, Germany’s Jamal Musiala and Spain’s Lamine Yamal have stormed onto the scene as some of the most exciting talents in Europe, but no player can compare to the impact that AI has had on football.

Before a ball has even been kicked in this summer’s European Championship, AI has influenced squad selections, streamlined spectator ticketing processes and has even used data to predict the winner. According to Opta Supercomputer Predictions, England has a 19.9% chance of winning the tournament, ahead of France and Germany.

Let’s take a look at how UEFA has embraced innovation and technology for this year’s football European Championships.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

Football’s love-hate relationship with VAR is set to write another chapter at a major football tournament this year with an upgraded VAR system in place. Since its inception in the 2019 UEFA Champions League, VAR has adapted and evolved into a regular fixture in world football.

This year, VAR will be used alongside two assistant video assistant referees (AVARs) and three video operators during all games at the UEFA European Championship 2024. As well as this, the football technologies hub (FTECH hub), based at the international broadcast centre in Leipzig, Germany, will have four video operations rooms (VORs) to monitor clear and obvious refereeing errors.

While allowing the referee to make the final decision on every call through on-field review, VAR will assist with goals, red cards, mistaken identity and incidents in the penalty area. Stadium screens will also communicate the information from the FTECH hub to the fans within the stadium.

Connected ball technology

An exciting innovation featuring for the first time at the football European Championships is connected ball technology, created by Adidas. Using one of the most technologically advanced footballs in the sport’s history, the ‘FUSSBALLLIEBE’ uses AI technology to send data from the ball to match officials in real time to support a faster decision-making process. This groundbreaking technology will also assist VAR officials in identifying every touch of the ball.

Goal-line technology

Goal-line technology is a tried and tested system that works well and doesn’t split opinion the way VAR does. Why? Speed, accuracy and fairness. The seven cameras in operation use vision-processing techniques and software to detect whether the ball has crossed the line and, within a second, notifies the officials via a watch notification.

This technology has been used by UEFA since 2016, six years after Frank Lampard’s infamous disallowed goal against Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

Semi-automated offside technology

Combined with the connected ball technology used by UEFA, semi-automated offside technology identifies the point of ball contact to assist offside decisions. Thanks to 10 specialised cameras that track 29 different body points per player, immediate decisions can be made, and the game can resume with the correct decision.

What are the key benefits of using advanced football technologies at UEFA EURO 2024?

With the introduction of semi-automated offside technology and connected ball technology, UEFA will be hoping to build on the success of the technology used during UEFA EURO 2020 and emulate the positive reaction received last time out from fans, players, officials and the media.

When used correctly, AI technology can aid officials to make the correct decisions and lead to fair outcomes. There are many benefits of using technology during major football tournaments like UEFA EURO 2024, such as inspiring domestic leagues across Europe as an example of how to effectively implement technology within football.

As well as an increase in correct decision-making, using advanced technology in football can raise levels of performance, increase research and awareness of injury prevention and create entertainment for supporters and followers of football. These are all benefits of using AI technology on and off the field at global football tournaments.

As we enjoy a summer of football, keep an eye on the technology that promises to make this year’s European Championship the most innovative tournament UEFA has ever held. The stage has been set for greatness, now it’s over to the players.

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When and where will EURO 2024 take place?

The European Championship 2024 kicks off with hosts Germany taking on Scotland at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Friday 14 June. Held across 10 host cities in Germany, the final will take place at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Sunday 14 July.

What are the key improvements in ball tracking for UEFA EURO 2024?

Connected ball technology will be used at the football European Championships for the first time, using Adidas’ ‘FUSSBALLLIEBE’. The AI technology sends data from the ball to match officials in real time to support a faster decision-making process. This groundbreaking technology in football will also assist VAR officials in identifying every touch of the ball.

How will these technologies be integrated into the tournament?

VAR, connected ball technology, goal-line technology and semi-automated offside technology, as well as the introduction of the FTECH hub, will all be used at UEFA EURO 2024 in Germany from game one. The technology will be seamlessly integrated into games throughout the tournament by experienced officials and technicians.

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