— Published 9 May 2023

UEFA turns to space


Unprecedented. UEFA has announced that it has signed a new kind of partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It aims to improve the management of crowds of fans, but also to measure the impact of the presence of football grounds on local life, and even to improve the environmental impact of sport. Initialled by both parties on Monday 8 May at a conference in Lausanne, it runs until 31 December 2025. One year after the fiasco of the Champions League final at the Stade de France, the agreement opens the door to space innovation in professional football. Among its promises: space-based monitoring of crowds in front of stadiums to identify potential bottlenecks; access by UEFA to historical data from specific venues; and telecommunication satellite support for terrestrial communication networks during matches. Less expected, the agreement should allow the European body to analyse the benefits that a football stadium brings to local communities, by combining satellite images with socio-economic, weather and health data.