Euro 2016: How wearable tech will line up at this year's tournament

VR and player tracking to star at the European Championships in France
Spain's Casillas lifts up the trophy after defeating Italy to win the Euro 2012 final soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Kiev
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Whether you call it football or soccer (it's definitely football), the beautiful game is beginning to reap the benefits of wearable tech to improve performances on the pitch both individually and as a team. And it's improving the experience for supporters as well.

Last year FIFA, the game's governing body, announced a decision to create a wearable tech standard for world football. When that takes effect, we're not so sure. It took long enough to introduce goal-line technology, while in-game video replays have only just been given the green light. We know those folks at FIFA are busy with 'other things' at the moment, so maybe it's not high on the list of priorities.

Read this: How Adidas miCoach helped Germany secure World Cup glory

Until that becomes a reality, then, here's how wearable tech will make its presence felt at Euro 2016 – and why it could be the difference between lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy or getting the early flight home to watch the action in front of the TV.

For the players (and coaches)

Euro 2016: How wearable tech will line up at this year's tournament

Player tracking systems, which involve building sensors into clothing that players can wear on the training ground (and in matches), are now pretty commonplace in most top leagues across Europe. The likes of Catapult Sports (used by Premier League champions Leicester City) and GPSSports have been offering teams across the globe ways of better monitoring player condition to ensure they're in the best shape before they walk out onto that pitch. You can also include STATSports on that list, a system which has been used by the Republic of Ireland team during the qualification stages for the tournament as well as by both the England FA and Northern Ireland FA.

The STATSports Viper Pod system is packed with a GPS module, a series of motion sensors and a heart rate receiver and sits inside a vest/base layer. It's able to monitor valuable metrics such distance, speed, acceleration, step balance and heart rate. It can even report collisions and give players a fatigue index. All of the data can be streamed live so managers and coaches can keep an eye on individual performances in training and in games.

For a tournament like the European Championships, this kind of tech is going to prove useful for knowing when to rotate players, especially when there's a shorter space of recovery between games, as well as assessing the impact of any player entering a tournament off the back of a gruelling domestic season.

For the refs

Euro 2016: How wearable tech will line up at this year's tournament

If you can cast your mind back to Euro 2012, at the Group D game between Ukraine and England you might remember John Terry's heroic clearance off the line from midfielder Mark Devic's shot. The assistant referee didn't spot that the ball had crossed the line, costing Ukraine an equalising goal that could have kept them in the tournament.

Thankfully we shouldn't see anything like that happen again now that UEFA has decided to introduce Hawk-Eye goal-line technology, which has been used in select leagues in Europe for a couple of seasons now but will be making its debut at a major football tournament at Euro 2016.

The technology is already widely used in tennis and cricket and uses a series of high frame rate cameras situated around the goal, which will be in in place across all stadiums used in the tournament. Referees will be wearing a watch connected to the system and when the ball is detected to have crossed the line, they'll get a vibration and alert to signal that it was a goal.

For the supporters

Euro 2016: How wearable tech will line up at this year's tournament

Wearables can also play their part for those shelling out on a trip to France to watch the game. In Lille, transport network Transpole has partnered with Gemalto to make contactless payment wristbands available for fans who need to travel around the city for the six Euro 2016 matches it's hosting.

Read this: Virtual reality TV is closer than you think

What's more interesting for those who can't make the trip is UEFA's decision to green light the filming of some matches in VR, including all of England's group games. Nokia Technologies' OZO professional-grade cameras will be shooting the 360-degree footage with cameras set to be situated inside the players' tunnel.

There's been no confirmation of how or whether footage will be viewable by VR headset owning supporters during the tournament, but it has been suggested that it could appear on an official YouTube channel.

Companies like Next VR and IM360 have been at the forefront of bringing live virtual reality TV to life, so we might not be too far away from watching an entire tournament using Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive.

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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