Call for Papers | “Football and Digitalisation”, Special Issue of Zeitschrift für Fußball und Gesellschaft (FuG). Call ends March 31, 2024

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Digitalisation is a megatrend that brings about extensive changes in many areas of society. In general, one can speak of digitalisation “when an analogue service is replaced in whole or in part by a service in a digital model that can be managed by a computer” (Wolf & Strohschen, 2018:58 (authors’ translation)). Not only do established phenomena affect the field of football, but completely new phenomena are also developing in this domain.

40% of fans engage with their club and team via social networks already (Seifert, 2021). Branding and fan retention are now also increasingly taking place through social media marketing, accompanied by an increasing internationalisation. As a result, potential for an even greater commercialisation of football is being exploited. In this context, stadium operators and clubs are also developing their own apps, e.g., for spectator management or customer loyalty. There are also opportunities for digital participation, such as fans participating in polls from the comfort of their own homes. Further changes in spectatorship are predicted for the future due to the influence of virtual and augmented reality. Some authors assume that a 3D matchday experience for fans will be possible from one’s own home in the future.

Despite its relevance, this topic has hardly been studied so far, which may also be due to the romanticisation and importance of tradition in football.

The influence of digitalisation is also evident on the pitch. Detailed digital data on players’ passes and paths is already available. Coaches analyse and discuss these at half-time and digital parameters are becoming increasingly important for scouting as well. Digital elements can also be found in training. For example, the German national football team has already simulated match actions with the help of virtual reality glasses in 2017. Developments such as goal-line technology and the video assistant referee (VAR) have also changed the game in recent years.

Similar to other social transformations, digitalisation is also causing resistance. The aforementioned VAR is rejected by parts of the fan scene. In Switzerland and Germany, there have been protests against the establishment of e-sports teams at traditional football clubs. These counter-movements largely represent a research desideratum. The developments described relate primarily to professional football. However, digitalisation is also finding its way into amateur football at times.

The ethical, social, and economic implications of these processes deserve thorough investigation in order to develop a comprehensive understanding of the current and potential future impact on football in a digital era. Despite its relevance, this topic has hardly been studied so far, which may also be due to the romanticisation and importance of tradition in football. This special issue therefore aims to develop a more comprehensive understanding of digitalisation in football, taking a multi- and interdisciplinary approach.

Submissions can address the following topics, although this list is by no means exhaustive:

      • Discrimination against athletes in social media and other digital spaces
      • The impact of digital technologies on the fan experience inside and outside stadiums
      • Interaction between digital platforms and fan communities
      • Larger and more accessible performance data, greater objectivity in the evaluation of athletes
      • Possibilities of online participation in clubs’ decisions
      • Video Assistant Referee (VAR)
      • Augmented reality
      • Digital transformations in training and match operations
      • Analysing player data and tactical patterns
      • Branding through digitalisation
      • E-sports
      • Artificial Intelligence in football
      • Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) for fans

We encourage researchers from various disciplines to submit papers that explore the topic of digitalisation in football from different perspectives.

Please note that we only accept original submissions that have not been previously published. All contributions will undergo a double-blind peer review process. Please refer to the journal’s author information (https://budrich.de/Zeitschriften/Autor_innenhinweise_FUG.pdf), now updated with an English language version.

We are open to submissions in both English and German. We kindly ask interested authors to submit an abstract (max. 2,000 characters incl. spaces) by March 31st, 2024. Please send your abstract to robert.warnecke@inspo.uni-stuttgart.de. The editors will provide timely feedback on the abstracts. The deadline for submission of finalised articles (max. 40,000 characters incl. spaces) is October 7th, 2024.

If you have any questions about the Special Issue, please contact us at robert.warnecke@inspo.uni-stuttgart.de. For general enquiries, please contact the journal’s editorial team at redaktion_fug@budrich-journals.de.

References

Seifert, C. (2021). Was die Digitalisierung dem Fußball bringt – und warum die analoge Kommunikation trotzdem wichtig bleibt. In A. Hildebrandt, W. Landhäußer (Hrsg.), CSR und Digitalisierung (2.Aufl., S. 851 – 853). Springer Gabler.
Wolf, T., Strohschen, JH (2018). Digitalisierung: Definition und Reife. Informatik Spektrum 41, 56–64. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00287-017-1084-8.

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