Italian professional football club Associazione Sportiva Roma has begun a partnership with cyber protection company Acronis to use artificial intelligence (AI) to support its work on and off the pitch.

According to Acronis, AI and machine learning (ML) will be a key part of the partnership, and will be used to “process football data to optimise game and business operations” through data analysis, as well as powering cybersecurity solutions.

“Using a patchwork of solutions for anti-malware, backup, and so on leaves gaps in the system that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Acronis Cyber Protect ensures that organisations like AS Roma can rest easy knowing their data is secure, while also encountering minimum disruptions to their day-to-day operations,” said Jan-Jaap Jager, senior vice president at Acronis.

“Acronis is also working not only to protect AS Roma’s data, but also analyse it. AI and ML technologies will help the club in the back office and on the pitch, especially as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Associazione Sportiva Roma AI partnership follows growing football trend

From scouting and signing new players, analysing player performance and providing a better digital experience for fans, the use of data and AI in football has become increasingly commonplace.

in PwC’s 2019 Sports Survey of 580 industry leaders, 94% believe that innovation is either important or very important to sports organisations.

According to Intel, more than 1,500 football clubs now use football statistics database InStat, which has data on over 400,000 players. A growing number are also partnering with those in the technology industry in order to apply their data expertise both on and off the pitch.

For example, computing giant IBM has previously partnered with semi-professional English football club Leatherhead FC, with IBM Watson assisting in pre and post-match analysis, IBM Watson Discovery used to provide insights into the opposition.

AI can be a valuable tool when used alongside human coaches, with the realms of data points generated during matches providing insights into what works and what doesn’t that may otherwise be missed.

Tools such as TCT Coach application can even offer real-time match analysis, predicting how the next 15 minutes of the game will pan out, and allowing coaches a chance to change tactics or substitute players if necessary.

Technology connecting football to fans

AI is also being harnessed to deliver real-time content to fans. Earlier this week, it was announced that the German football league Bundesliga is parterning with Amazon Web Services to use AI to generate live ‘Match Facts’ during matches.

With a small number of football leagues around the world resuming matches behind closed doors as lockdown measures are eased, many have had to turn to technology to reach supporters, with fans of Danish football club AGF Aarhus able to join a “virtual grandstand” via Zoom when the Danish football league restarts today.

The State of Technology This Week

With this new emphasis on technology, it is possible that an even greater number of clubs will futher incorporate AI into their operations.

Associazione Sportiva Roma Chief Operating Officer, Francesco Calvo said:

“The sport of football is constantly evolving, and we have entered an age where we are more dependent than ever before on data to make game-winning calls. However, the more important data is the more at risk it becomes. This is why we are partnering up with Acronis to not only help us analyse and improve the quality of the data we collect, but also to protect it. We are excited to be #CyberFit with Acronis.”


Read more: Covid-19 will accelerate workplace automation, say business leaders.