#Aspire Academy Global Summit 2022

Masterclass: Arsène Wenger

FIFA, 14 Mar 2023


At the Aspire Academy Global Summit, FIFA's Head of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger delivered this fascinating presentation on how FIFA is applying science and data to the beautiful game, and what it means for players, coaches and fans.

In this session, delivered just before FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, Wenger (ably assisted by FIFA Group Leader Football Performance Analysis and Insights Chris Loxston) explained what FIFA was doing to develop the game in general terms before zeroing in on the key role of data analysis. He and Loxston went on to set out why data is important for coaches and fans, how FIFA collects and analyses that data, and how they planned to present it to fans during the World Cup.

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Introduction – developing the beautiful game
Wenger began the masterclass by explaining how he applies his 40 years of coaching experience to the task of improving the beautiful game around the world. After a painstaking analysis of 205 FIFA member associations, he and his team came up with three core key strands of activity: developing a global talent development system, analysing international competitions to identify major trends, and setting up the online Training Centre to broaden access to high-quality coaching resources.

The importance of data 
After his introduction, Wenger focused specifically on the role of data and the difference it can make. He set out what he initially wanted to achieve in this area when he took on his current role at FIFA, then cast his mind back to the early days of the data revolution when, as Head Coach of Arsenal FC, he began to rely on data to measure his players' performance and plan his transfer policy. Since joining FIFA, his view of the topic has broadened to consider how data can help develop the game as a whole.

The FIFA Football Language and why it's different 
Having outlined why we should care about data in football, Wenger and Loxston turned their attention to FIFA's unique Football Language, conceived as a lingua franca for understanding the beautiful game. They went on to explain three different terms in the Football Language: "offering to receive", "pressing" and "pushing on." Full details of all the terms used in the FIFA Football Language are available on the Training Centre website.

How FIFA collects and uses data 
At the recent World Cup, FIFA assigned teams of analysts to each match, allowing each analyst to focus on collecting data from one individual player rather than a whole team. Their work was complemented by the Technical Study Group, who analysed the games from the stands and discussed specific issues or queries with the data centre. The data was released to all 32 teams within four hours of the final whistle, ensuring they all had access to high-quality performance analysis.

Examples and case studies 
Wenger and Loxston also took the opportunity to demonstrate the sheer range of data FIFA collects on individual players and game events. They used statistics gathered from Croatia's talismanic midfielder Luka Modrić and the recent FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica to explain how data is collected in categories including offers to receive, limb-tracking, line-breaks and the distance between lines within a formation. All of these factors can help to pinpoint the difference between victory and defeat.

Data and the fan experience 
To conclude their presentation, Wenger and Loxston gazed into their crystal ball to set out how this new data might affect the experience for fans watching matches in Qatar. After a short video explaining FIFA's new Enhanced Football Intelligence metrics and how they will appear to television viewers, they went on to describe how broadcasters and commentators had been briefed on the new statistics and to demonstrate FIFA's World Cup Qatar 2022 fan app. Finally, Wenger signed off by outlining his expectations for the tournament – expectations that proved to be fully justified.

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