FIFA to Introduce VAR Technology at U17 Women's World Cup in October – SportTechie

Science & Technology

FIFA is introducing Video Assistant Referee technology, best known as VAR, into the Under-17 Women’s World Cup for the first time when the 2022 tournament kicks off in India next month. 
That U-17 Women’s World Cup typically occurs every two years but, due to the Covid pandemic, hasn’t taken place since 2018 when Spain won the tournament. FIFA is using next month’s edition as a chance to evaluate referees, assistant referees and video match officials for possible invitation to the senior FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023.
“The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will give us important and significant insights into the qualities of the match officials who have been appointed,” FIFA’s head of refereeing for the women’s game, Kari Seitz, said in a statement. “We are very happy that, also for the first time, VAR technology will be used at a FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. This event will be another great opportunity to showcase the skills of the appointed VARs and continue the development of our female VARs as part of the Road to Australia/New Zealand 2023 project.”
Opendorse and U.S. Bank have collaborated to form a financial literacy program for college athletes who are pursuing NIL.
Called “U.S. Bank Financial Fitness,” the platform will provide monetary education and advice for Opendorse’s roster of athletes who potentially profit from NIL. The program will initially tutor players on budgeting, paycheck deductions, income tax and overall financial planning so they can best monetize their personal brands within the confines of NCAA rules.
Athlete marketplace Opendorse, known as a top NIL technology provider, will post the financial literacy content on its app and the homepage of its website. As recently as two weeks ago, the company announced a deal to provide NIL opportunities to junior college players. It already collaborates with more than 120 Division I athletic departments and claims its roster of 80,000 players comes from Team USA, the PGA Tour, LPGA, WTA, the NHL, NBAPA, NFLPA, MLBPA and WNBPA.
Heading into the pro and college football season, the digital payment provider SpotOn has been hired to deploy its in-stadium technology at 37 venues throughout the NFL and NCAA.
The company will be the point-of-sale provider at home games for the New York Giants and Jets, the Denver Broncos, the Philadelphia Eagles, LSU and Auburn, among others. SpotOn’s cloud-based POS allows accelerated real-time mobile and on-line ordering from any place inside a venue, including suites.
Team operators can now also reward fan participation with member benefit discounts, while also using its ecosystem—including game-day POS analytics—to improve the performance of its digital app throughout a football season.
A calendar year ago, SpotOn raised a $300 million Series E funding round led by Andreesen Horowitz. At the same time, it purchased the mobile ordering system Appetize, which was integrated into 60% of the major sports venues in the country including Yankee Stadium, Dodger Stadium and home stadiums for the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens.
Earlier this month, SpotOn partnered with in-venue app Ordr to implement its technology into minor league baseball venues, starting with the Triple-A Gwinnet Stripers.
Drive by DraftKings and Shamrock Capital have invested in a $110 million Series D funding round raised by VidMob, an AI platform that generates data on how consumers interact with ads. The round was led by Shamrock Capital and included funding from existing VidMob investors Adobe, Shutterstock, BuildGroup and Spruce House.
VidMob‘s AI can inform brands on which ad themes and emotions get the most engagement from their audience. The company measures ad consumption across major social and digital platforms such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon Ads, TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snap, Pinterest, Hulu and Reddit. VidMob will use its Series D funding to grow its sales and marketing, accelerate platform development and expand its global footprint.
Shamrock Capital has previously invested in sports technology companies such as leading automated sports camera company Pixellot and venue point-of-sale software Appetize, which was acquired last year by SpotOn. Investors supporting Drive by DraftKings include several sports team owners from the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers, New York Knicks and Rangers and Boston Red Sox.
The Pro Football Retired Players Association is granting former NFL players an opportunity to earn money through a deal with the video platform MILLIONS.co.
Known as PFRPA Direct, retired players can utilize MILLIONS’ WatchStream technology to host real-time video interactions with their fans, while also creating and selling merchandise under MILLIONS’ direction.
Under the initiative, MILLIONS.co can arrange a branded “WatchParty” for former players interested in generating revenue. In each circumstance, a player’s fanbase will have the ability to view a sporting event with the player via livestream.
MILLONS.co will also collaborate with the retired players on how to best maximize merchandise sale. The social commerce company will grant PFRPA members access to their design team and a concierge account manager who can help them create videos or interactive “Ask Me Anything” sessions for fans willing to pay for the players’ content.
Ball tracking company Rapsodo has developed a new data-driven golf practice experience for its mobile launch monitor called Combines. 
Designed by Rapsodo advisor Sasho MacKenzie, a sport biomechanics professor at St. Francis Xavier University, with input from award-winning PGA instructor Mark Blackburn, Combines offers a skills test that takes less than 20 minutes and ends with a visual report and a total score that includes an estimated handicap. Rapsodo’s recommendations are based on more than 100,000 shots from PGA pros over the past 20 years.
Interested golfers need a Rapsodo MLM and premium subscription (roughly $100 annually) in order to access Combines. The program can use AI to suggest certain yardages that a player should work on. The company previously collaborated with Golf Digest on a virtual coaching platform that relied on the MLM.
Last week Rapsodo made a pair of releases for their baseball and softball products, partnering with Trajekt Sports on its robot pitching machine and launching Rapsodo Stadium, a purely optical solution for tracking in-game data.
Charles Myers has been hired as the first chief technology officer of Monumental Sports & Entertainment; the parent company of the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics. Myers previously worked as the VP of media and development engineering at Sirius XM for the past seven years. As CTO, Myers will now report to Zach Leonsis, MSE’s president of media and new enterprises.
The newly created position will see Myers lead MSE’s efforts across information technology, engineering, cyber security, digital development, and new technology projects. He will collaborate with other MSE departments to focus on enhancing the fan experience, optimizing technology workflows, and developing new business opportunities.
“Coming out of the pandemic, the importance of making strategic investments into our digital and technology infrastructure is a clear priority. As we considered how to best position the organization for the future, the creation of a new technology office led by a new Chief Technology Officer became an exciting path forward,” Zach Leonsis said in a statement.
Monumental announced last week that it agreed to purchase NBC Sports Washington while MSE’s CEO Ted Leonsis is reportedly making a bid to buy MLB’s Washington Nationals. Last year, the MSE-owned Capital One Arena become the first U.S. sports arena with an in-venue sportsbook. MSE also owns esports team affiliates for the NBA’s Wizards and NHL’s Capitals.
The NFL will launch an NFT helmet collection licensed by all 32 teams on Aug. 30 as part of its new NFL Rivals blockchain fantasy football game developed by Mythical Games. The collection will span 2,500 one-of-one animated helmets for each of the 32 NFL teams.
Each NFT helmet will be sold on RarityLeague.com for 0.14 Ethereum, which currently equals about $216 USD. The inaugural drop on Aug. 30 will feature helmets from the Bengals and Rams and the collectibles will also be available on NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea and Rarible.
Fans who buy Rarity League NFTs will get rewards such as NFL Rivals player NFTs to use in fantasy contests and access to in-game currency and exclusive in-game tournaments. Mythical Games announced its deal in May with the NFL and NFLPA to make NFL Rivals. The NFL’s other NFT excursions include its non-fungible commemorative tickets with Ticketmaster, DraftKings NFT Reignmakers fantasy football, and its NFL All Day marketplace with Dapper Labs.
Pixellot will expand its automated sports video production technology across Canada through its new deal with HomeTeam Live, a streaming app for youth and professional sports competitions in Canada. HomeTeam expects to install Pixellot’s computer vision cameras in 150 Canadian venues by the end of this year.
Among the leagues to livestream games on HomeTeam’s subscription platform include the Western Canadian Baseball League, League1 British Columbia soccer, Saskatchewan Premier Baseball League, and the national Canadian Junior Little League Championship. Over the next year and a half, Pixellot and HomeTeam believe they have potential to expand into 1,400 venues in Canada.
Israel-headquartered Pixellot raised $161 million at a $500 million valuation earlier this year. The company’s unmanned cameras that automatically follow ball and player movement produce more than 150,000 games per month globally through partners such as the NBA, MLB, FC Barcelona, Bundesliga, Genius Sports, LigaMX and the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Beckett Collectibles, best known for its print pricing guide for American sports cards, has created the Beckett Vault, a safehouse for collectibles that includes instant digital viewing access. 
The Beckett Vault is part of the company’s new 100,000-square-foot facility in Plano, Texas. The room is guarded with biometric access control and maintains water- and fire-proof protection, climate-controlled settings and 24/7 security monitoring.
The initial threshold is that Beckett will consider items valued at $750 and higher. Every item going to a digital studio for high-resolution photos prior to storage; that will enable owners to show their items on their smartphones. Visits to the Vault can be arranged with the concierge service.
Beckett intends to incorporate Vault items into its digital marketplace, with users able to buy and sell items with the ownership title transferred from one person to the next via blockchain. Collectors can submit to have their items stored there, which will be free at launch; Beckett will charge a 5% handling fee for items that are sold.
The German Football Association will implement TrackMan’s ball flight technology throughout all levels of its academy as part of a continued initiative to develop players.
Known overseas as the DFB-Akademie, the organization had earlier vetted TrackMan’s ball-striking metrics with its men’s senior national team and saw rapid improvement in the squad’s ball delivery skills during practices. Through its optically-enhanced radar technology, TrackMan has been able to calculate real-time spin axis, spin rate, launch angle, flight time and speed of a soccer ball—something it had previously only measured across golf and baseball. 
The company has coupled that data with analytics such as wall height, goalkeeper coverage and scoring opportunity to help the men’s senior national team improve performance. As recently as last February, TrackMan had introduced the same soccer ball flight technology product to the Danish Superliga club FC Midtjylland for insights on other aspects of the game, such as free kicks and penalties. TrackMan’s devices work in tandem with cameras for auto-synchronization and video tied to data and has deployed the technology on NFL field goals, as well.

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