Coming soon to a stadium near you (as long as that stadium is in the Bundesliga): 5G networks and real-time visual in-match data. - © 2019 DFL
Coming soon to a stadium near you (as long as that stadium is in the Bundesliga): 5G networks and real-time visual in-match data. - © 2019 DFL

5G technology and real-time app in the Bundesliga for 2019/20


Ever been at a football stadium and wondered just how fast a particular player is sprinting down the wing? Or how powerful his shot just was? Well, wonder no longer. Starting in the 2019/20 Bundesliga season, fans in the stands will be able to see real-time data and augmented reality on their phones thanks to pioneering 5G technology.

If that sounds like a lot of tech-speak, fear not. What it means is that the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has teamed up with telecommunications company Vodafone to mesh the best of both worlds when it comes to experiencing football: the emotions of watching a game live in the stadium and the buzz of additional, instant information.

To that end, they have created a smartphone app that will provide statistics and data before, during and after the game in real time. The app processes the information in visual form, producing live graphics, stats and analysis that - until now - have been exclusively used in post-match television shows. It is a pioneering step and one that has never before been made available to fans in stadiums anywhere in the world.

Bundesliga clubs are no strangers to using pioneering technology: Julian Nagelsmann's use of a video wall at Hoffenheim's training ground is just one example of many. - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim

What this means is that with the stroke of a fingertip, spectators will be able to see, for example, how fast a player is running. The information for the app is drawn from the approximately 1,600 match events and 3.6 million positional points the DFL gathers per Bundesliga game.

In order to ensure a smooth - and speedy - digital experience for the app's users, 5G technology is needed. Last season, up to 500 gigabytes of data were sent through Vodafone's network at peak times during Bundesliga games, an increase of 50 per cent on the previous year. And with a European record average of approximately 43,000 fans attending every Bundesliga match, the demands placed on mobile networks is huge.

Wolfsburg's Volkswagen Arena will be the first stadium in the Bundesliga to house the new 5G technology in 2019/20. - imago images / Jan Huebner

For the coming 2019/20 season, Wolfsburg's Volkswagen Arena will be the first to have a 5G network, with the infrastructure set to be in place by autumn. It is anticipated that this will provide 60 per cent more network capacity at the stadium.

"Technologies are only as good as the application possibilities that emerge from them," DFL CEO Christian Seifert said. "As a leader of innovation, the DFL is continuously advancing new technologies concerning sport and media to provide additional possibilities to spectators in the stadium and in front of screens. We are doing this by connecting 5G and real-time information. A strong 5G infrastructure provides the ideal conditions for partners and clubs too."