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EPTS – The Laws of the Game 2020/21

EPTS is one of the technical possibilities in football, which has been used extensively for a few years. It is a collective term for technical means that transmit performance data and body values of the individual players. Be it the kilometers run, the fitness and other data, which can be tracked.

For example, it is about

  • the collection of biometric data from athletes
  • a rapid diagnosis of an injury or information about possible health problems
  • assessing the performance of individual players

But the technology is not only for the team staff. The course of the game can be evaluated automatically, results can be predicted and game scenes can be reproduced in detail afterwards. This not only benefits tactical briefings from TV broadcasters but also the games industry.

For the Laws of the Game 2020/21 there were mainly rewordings:

“Where wearable technology (WT) as part of electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS) is used in matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, confederations or national football associations, the competition organiser must ensure that the technology attached to the players’ equipment is not dangerous and must bear the following mark meets one of the following standards: IMS (International Match Standard) or FIFA Quality. “This mark indicates that it has been officially tested and meets the minimum safety requirements of the International Match Standard developed by FIFA and approved by The IFAB. The institutes conducting these tests are subject to the approval of FIFA.”

In future, EPTS will not only have to have the FIFA Quality Logo. As an alternative, EPTS with the IMS logo is allowed. Furthermore the text was shortened a bit.

“Where electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS) are used (subject to the agreement of the national football association/competition organiser) the provided by the match or competition organiser, it is the responsibility of that match or competition organiser must to ensure that the information and data transmitted from EPTS to the technical area during matches played in an official competition are reliable and accurate.

A professional standard was developed by FIFA and approved by The IFAB in order to support the competition organisers with the approval process of reliable and accurate electronic performance and tracking systems.

The following mark indicates that an EPTS device/system (wearable or optical) has been officially tested and meets to the requirements in terms of reliability and accuracy of positional data in football: […].”

The text has been slightly changed for clarification.

The evolution of the EPTS

EPTS, Electronic performance and tracking systems, has been discussed in the AGMs of the IFAB since 2013. The Scottish Association proposed this year that the IFAB should form a consultation group to explore the future possibilities of such systems. It also proposed that the use of the data should be limited to half the time and to team doctors.

Team physicians should be able to use a limited version of the system. However, the proposal did not get a majority on the board. A year later, EPTS was discussed again and the issue was referred to the newly formed TAP and FAP, the Technical Advisory Panel and the Football Advisatory Panel of the IFAB to gather more data and information for a decision. In the following AGM, FAP and TAP informed that they had tested EPTS as an experiment. It had shown “a great success in amateur and recreational football.

The number of players taking part increased significantly. In addition, it prevented teams from being eliminated in the middle of the year and helped players returning after injury by better managing their playing time”. After the report, the board wanted further research into a) a quality assessment of the various systems, b) the use of data and c) the licensing process. It also stressed that the data should not be used in real time, but only for medical purposes.

“Since the 1990s, it has become increasingly common to record a wide range of different data relating to a football match: first of all kicks on the goal and chances, then ball possession, running performance, duels won and much more. In the beginning, these parameters had to be painstakingly recorded by hand, but soon numerous new developments helped in the collection of data.
Football and Technology, German patent and trademark office

In 2016, EPTS was approved and the development of an IFAB standard for EPTS continued. Meanwhile the use of EPTS for team officials is allowed, but only with small, mobile devices like microphone, headphones, smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc. Furthermore, EPTS may not only be used for medical purposes, but also for coaching.

The german patent and trademark office offers a wonderful collection of inventions related to EPTS. The overview contains a grouping and classification of the technology as well as drawings and the patent documents for the individual inventions in this area. Click here for the Football and Technology page.

The header image shows the screenshot from the Laws of the Game app by The IFAB, as of 10 August 2020.