In the early 2000s, sports scientists relied on time-motion analysis systems to assess footballers’ locomotion and other physiological measures (Dellaserra, Gao, & Ransdell, 2014). They recorded videos and digitized them, a process that lacked validity and required numerous hours of work. However, around 2007, more football teams adopted global positioning systems (GPS) and accelerometer technology to assess their players’ performances and health (Dellaserra et al., 2014). As this technology has advanced, more data has been received from players on the training ground. Paired with accelerometer and heart rate technology, GPS can collect data such as distance travelled, speed, heart rate, and magnitude/frequency of contact.
This technology, of course, has advanced rapidly in recent years. In fact it is rising so quick that analysts at IHS Technology predicted revenue for sports, fitness, and activity monitors to increase by about $1 Billion from 2014 to 2019 (Walker, 2014). In recent years, coaches were receiving meaningful data on the condition of their players on the training ground. However, during matches, only on-the-ball actions were recorded through cameras placed in stadia. Hence, statistics such as passes and shots were recorded during matches, but not acceleration or player load (Svetlik, 2017). Much of this data was useless for coaches. The actions performed by players on the pitch during matches played a significant role in their physical condition; but that data was not being collected. As a result, teams requested The International Football Association Board (IFAB) to allow players to wear electronic performance and tracking systems during matches.
When the association met for its 129thAnnual General Meeting on February 27 – March 1, 2015, it amended Law 4 of the Laws of the Game. It originally “[forbade] the use of electronic communication systems between players and/or technical staff” (The International Football Association Board, 2015). The association approved the use of EPTS but agreed that more research needs to be done to understand existing systems and the devices’ medical advantages.
Nevertheless, FIFA issued an official statement approving the use of EPTS devices during matches. Devices needed to be inspected by the FIFA referee instructor, the data could not be shared outside the team, their brands could not be visible while worn, and no technical devices would be allowed in the technical area (Fédération Internationale de Football Association, 2015). Afterwards, FIFA publicized that it was attempting to find a standard for EPTS and invited companies to share their products with the organization on October 2015 (FIFA.com, 2015).
After collaborating with various companies and gaining a better understanding of EPTS devices, IFAB published official changes to Law 4 of the Laws of the Game which accounted for usage of EPTS during matches. It created a minimum set of standards that must be met by each system when tested at a FIFA-accredited independent test institute. Devices must meet the International Match Standard (IMS) as explained in the FIFA Quality Programme for Wearable Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (“About the IMS standard for wearable tracking devices,” n.d.; FIFA, 2017).
For companies that hope to produce wearable EPTS devices that can be worn during matches in accordance with the Laws of the Game, they must follow four steps to obtain the IMS mark (FIFA, 2017).
Step 1: Request the IMS test
The company sends their information and details of their EPTS device to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once FIFA approves the application, the company will be asked to send a specific amount of their devices to an accredited test institute.
Step 2: EPTS Impact Assessment Test
The institute will conduct the impact assessment test. The final report is sent to FIFA once the company pays their testing fee.
Step 3: Product Liability Insurance and WFSGI Pledge
Companies need to show product liability insurance for their EPTS device in addition to a pledge from the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) that confirms that the device meets industry standards.
Step 4: Completing the Contract
FIFA will send the company an invoice for an annual payment and the tested device will become IMS-approved.
FIFA first tested player stats tablets at the 2017 Confederations Cup Final in Russia. Germany and Chile were both given three tablets: one for an analyst on the bench, one for another analyst in the stands, and the last one for medical staff. Using an optical tracking system, they were able to watch match footage, player positions, and in-game statistics (“Player stats tablets to be tested live at Russia 2017 final,” 2017). After receiving feedback from both teams, FIFA announced that this service will be available to all teams at the 2018 World Cup (FIFATV, 2018). FIFA continues to learn about what EPTS can bring into football and how it can benefit players, coaches, and even supporters.
The role of an analyst using EPTS during the 2018 World Cup (FIFATV, 2018).
How to Cite this Article
“History and FIFA Regulations of EPTS,” Written by Noor Tasnim (2018). World Cup 2018 Guide, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/tournament-guides/mens-world-cup-2018-guide/gear/electronic-performance-and-tracking-systems/history-and-fifa-regulations-of-epts/ (accessed on (date)).
About the IMS standard for wearable tracking devices. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://football-technology.fifa.com/en/media-tiles/about-the-ims-standard-for-wearable-tracking-devices/
Dellaserra, C. L., Gao, Y., & Ransdell, L. (2014). Use of Integrated Technology in Team Sports: A Review of Opportunities, Challenges, and Future Directions for Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(2), 556–573.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association. (2015). Approval of Electronic Performance and Tracking System (EPTS) devices. Zurich, Switzerland: Jérome Valcke.
FIFA. (2017). FIFA Quality Programme for wearable EPTS devices. Zurich, Switzerland: n.a.
FIFA.com. (2015, October 8). FIFA and IFAB to develop global standard for electronic performance and tracking systems. Retrieved April 28, 2018, from http://www.fifa.com/about-fifa/news/y=2015/m=10/news=fifa-and-ifab-to-develop-global-standard-for-electronic-performance-an-2709918.html
FIFATV. (2018). Electronic Performance & Tracking Systems (EPTS): The role of the Analyst. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avVMb_FZmZI
The International Football Association Board. (2015). Minutes: 129th Annual General Meeting of The International Football Association Board. Belfast, Northern Ireland: n.a.
Player stats tablets to be tested live at Russia 2017 final. (2017, July 2). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://football-technology.fifa.com/en/news/news-releases/player-stats-tablets-to-be-tested-live-at-russia-2017-final-1/
Svetlik, J. (2017, June 19). EPL 2030: Football’s Wearable Tech Revolution Has Only Just Begun. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2659361-epl-2030-footballs-wearable-tech-revolution-has-only-just-begun
Walker, S. (2014, May 16). Revenue for Sports, Fitness and Activity Monitors to Increase by Nearly $1 Billion Through 2019. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from http://news.ihsmarkit.com/press-release/design-supply-chain-media/revenue-sports-fitness-and-activity-monitors-increase-nearly