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Thu. 05 August 2021

Universidad Católica Argentina: Great interest in innovation and new technologies

The pandemic that we have been experiencing since the beginning of 2020 has been an opportunityfor the partners of the FIFA/CIES International University Network to propose new content to students. For example, Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA) has decided to offer a series of courses dedicated to innovation and new technologies in sport.

For the Programme Directors, the aim was to answer simple but essential questions about the importance of innovation and new technologies in sport: What is innovation? What is digital transformation, Big Data, artificial intelligence and what is their impact on sport management? How can emerging technologies improve sports performance, transform the spectator experience, help refereeing? What are the future trends in innovation?

UCA therefore asked Pablo Sciolla, consulting partner at EY, to design an ad hoc module. He accepted the mandate and specified the framework of his teaching. He said, "My objectives are to give students general knowledge. They must be able to understand how innovation can transform sport management. They should also be able to identify emerging technologies and the opportunities they offer.”

During the 15-hour course, students were introduced to concepts as diverse as Big Data, IoT (Internet of Things), data analytics, Blockchain, augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

As an example, they discussed the solutions offered by data analysis to improve the development of sports activities, operational processes (such as logistics, accounting, partner and fan management),as well as management activities (planning, coordination, control, etc.). They also discussed the gradual intervention of artificial intelligence in decision making support, especially with regard to refereeing in different sports.

The teaching staff emphasised the role of innovation and new technologies in football. For example,software on "expected goals" or team management, aid for player training (process of analysing the information received by the brain to improve attention, perception and reaction capacity, new machines or new training areas) and "goal line technology".

In the classroom, Pablo Sciolla also stressed the importance of creating "innovation hubs" in sport to encourage the exchange and development of new ideas, as well to attract new talent and create a culture of innovation.

The Directors the UCA/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme can only stress the success of this initiative. Asthey explained: "For us, incorporating this new module was a must. It is a relevant improvement, which will allow future sports managers to assimilate knowledge about the scope of new technologies in the sports industry. Students need to realize the magnitude of the transformation that the industry is undergoing. Now, we offer them tools to understand the impact that innovation is having on new fan experiences, improved sports performance and the transformation of the management of sports entities. This is a reality that cannot be ignored by the academic world. That is why we have taken this first big step. We will continue along this path and create other bridges between innovation and the professionalisation of sports management”.

As far as the students are concerned, their comments are positive too. "The Professors managed to show to us that new technologies can provide excellent support for our work as sports managers. It is a complement that can help us to achieve excellence. We were able to understand the benefits of these technologies and start thinking about how to use them in our organisations. In addition, the information we received was very much related to the context of sport in Argentina, especially the reality of clubs. Therefore, it was very useful for us," noted some students.

Based on this success, the UCA has renewed and strengthened the courses on innovation and new technologies for the students who started the new edition of the UCA/FIFA/CIES Executive Programme last April.

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