Blog 10 Jul 2024 

Fantasy football: 11 innovations changing the game

As Europe’s top footballing nations battle it out in the Euros, we look at some of the innovations changing the game, or that could do so soon.

Becky Fields

Becky Fields

Corporate Communications Manager

Football is no stranger to innovation. From the Cruyff turn to the Panenka penalty, many players and coaches have come up with new techniques to give their teams the edge.

It’s not just the players and teams engaged in innovation either. In 2023, the UEFA Innovation Hub announced Champions Innovate, its programme focused on innovation and sustainability. Three startups were awarded the opportunity to work with commercial partners to boost fan engagement around the social and environmental impact of the 2024 UEFA Champions League final. 

Whatever our teams’ performances at the Euros, the UK is rich in football history, and its entrepreneurial landscape is no different. From technology pioneers to innovative entrepreneurs, SME start-ups and scale-ups, the UK has a rich innovation ecosystem. It boasts a diverse array of ideas and products that are modernising our most beloved sports whilst addressing some of society’s greatest concerns. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some cutting-edge science and technology that could help further change the game on and off the pitch, enhance player performance, diversify fan experience and make the sport more sustainable – a fantasy football team of innovations. 

Team selection: Innovations United Select XI

3 – 52 formation 

At the base of our team, we have several innovative technologies that are being deployed at UEFA Euro 2024. Many of these are aimed at addressing in-game decision-making and human error, often in last-ditch defending. 


1. Goal Line Technology (GLT). Goalkeeper. A no-brainer. It just makes sense that GLT is between the sticks on this team. This system, which has been in place since 2016, uses several cameras trained on each goal to track the ball. Vision-processing techniques and software then analyse those images. If the ball doesn’t fully cross the line, it is not a goal. 


2. Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT). Right centre-back. SAOT is the first defender on our team sheet because they won’t let even the most rapid of strikers steal a march on them. Ten specialised cameras in each stadium track 29 different points on each player’s body to help accurately determine whether they are even a fraction offside. 

3. Connected Ball Technology (CBT). Centre-back. The connection between defenders needs to be rock solid and yet fluid at the same time. That’s why CBT plays alongside SAOT. One almost can’t work without the other, they are just so in-sync. CBT uses a chip inside the ball to relay precise information about its movement and when it has been kicked. Working together with SAOT, no one is getting past them. 

4. Stuff4Life. Left centre-back. The last defender on our list has been there and done it all. Indispensable, tough as old boots (quite literally) and still going strong despite rumours they were on their last legs. Stuff4Life repurposes used workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) using advanced recycling techniques to produce new, longer-lasting workwear from the recovered materials. 


Fans are at the heart of any sport. Professional football depends on them. So where better to put innovations that could enhance fan experience than at the heart of midfield. 

5. 3D Bio-Tissues. Right centre-midfield. A midfielder can’t run without energy, and fans need it to give their full-throated support before, during and after the match. That’s where 3D Bio-Tissues could come in, providing ethical nutrients to help grow cultivated meat for environmentally friendly burgers to fuel our future fans and players alike. 

6. 5G VISTA. Centre-midfield. If the opposition thinks this midfielder is seemingly everywhere on the pitch, well, that’s because they are. Fans want to know as much about their team as soon as possible, especially during a match. 5G VISTA, a Digital Catapult-enabled technology, uses 5G broadcast technology to engage fans with personalised content on their mobile devices, from exclusive interviews to real-time statistics. It couldhelp bring them closer to the action than ever before. 

7. Sound shirts. Left centre-midfield. Silent but deadly. This bustling, all-action midfielder, full of intelligent moves, lets their body do the talking”. You are sure to know they’re there when they’re tightly marking you. Newcastle United trialled a new sound shirt” in April in a match against Tottenham Hotspur. The innovation provides a more inclusive experience for deaf fans by using stadium microphones to digitally turn crowd noise into vibrations via haptics embedded in different areas of the shirt. 


8. Wearable technology. Right-wing. A right winger needs to run all match and will clock some of the longest distances doing so. As a result, they are perhaps one of the team’s fittest players. To help them achieve peak performance and health, wearable technology devices that monitor heart rate, distance covered, and more are being increasingly utilised. Even smart shin guards and bootstraps! This player has the physical edge. 

9. Heatleaf. Centre forward. Our striker is an out-and-out goalscorer who never goes cold. Heatleaf provides amputees with a pain-relieving solution that prevents them from feeling intense cold due to poor circulation in their residual limbs. This innovation will not only help improve lives but create a more inclusive world – great goals by any standard! Speaking of which, did you see the goal that won Marcin Oleksy, a Polish amputee footballer, the 2023 Puskas Award?

10. TRL9. Forward. A number 10 is a playmaker and needs plenty of energy to keep making those runs from deep and sliding passes in behind the defence. TRL9 will provide that. They’ve developed a solar panel with a combined heat and power unit to provide hot water and electricity. A stadium with these all over its roof could potentially run forever on its own energy. 

11. KYMIRA/​Dycotec. Left-wing. Lastly, on the opposite wing to wearable technology is the next in line on the innovation academy conveyor belt. The days of wearable technology monitors slipped or sewn into pockets on a player’s shirt could be over. Instead, they can be incorporated into the fabric itself. KYMIRA and Dycotec are developing smart sportswear with technology that seamlessly integrates into athletic clothing, matching their movements exactly and transmitting the data back to be analysed. 

Football and innovation in the future

The successful innovations that make up our fantasy football team could help players perform at the peak of their powers, ensure fair play and create exciting fan experiences. There are innovations that make the sport more environmentally sustainable, and others that level the playing field, fostering inclusivity and the ability for all to play at the top. 

Whilst these are the names on the team sheet now, one thing is constant: innovation keeps changing the game and always will do. It’s as vital to the evolution of sport as it is in society. 

That is perhaps best embodied by Forest Green Rovers (FGR), the world’s first carbon-neutral football club, which is owned by eco-entrepreneur Dale Vince. The stadium is powered by solar panels and green energy, the meals are vegan, and there are many other environmentally sustainable innovations in play at the club. Are trailblazers like FGR providing a sporting blueprint for the future? 

If you have an innovation that could help create a more sustainable, healthy future for people and the planet – sports-based or otherwise – get in touch with our experts to see how we can work together. 

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