SPORT / FOOTBALL
Dalian Pro establish innovation hub in collaboration with FIFA
Published: Dec 23, 2020 02:28 PM

Photo: Courtesy of Wanda Group

Chinese Super League side Dalian Pro have established a Football Technology Innovation Hub in Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, as the club is in an initial three-year collaboration with the world football governing body FIFA, the club has announced.

Dalian Pro, a football club affiliated to the Wanda Group, one of FIFA's top sponsors, finished 12th in the 16-team top flight in the 2020 season.

The two parties will work closely to continue the development of football in China with a specific focus on research, testing and developing standards for new technology aimed primarily at youth and grassroots football, the club said in a statement. 

Through the collaboration with Dalian Pro, FIFA will have access to Wanda's new academy in Dalian where they will trial new technologies and innovations in football together with Dalian Pro players from all age groups. 

"As a coach you need to make sure you have access to the latest technology. To be part of this project is good for Dalian Pro and also good for FIFA who can use our players and our academy to innovate and apply new technologies," said Rafa Benitez, head coach of Dalian Pro. 

"Having the latest software in our hands will enable us to try and improve our players and hopefully we will see international players for China coming from our academy in the future." 

The project is already in its first phase with FIFA and Dalian Pro working together on a pilot project for a new athletes management system, which will be followed by further projects in the months to come, the club said. 

Mattias Grafstro, FIFA deputy secretary general, believes the facility shows China's bright future in football.

"Dalian Pro shares our commitment to leveraging technology to improve football at all levels," Grafstro said. 

"Pairing the state of the art facilities at the Dalian Pro academy with the prospect of a regional innovation hub in China will unlock the huge potential for all football stakeholders interesting in keen to take the next step forward." 
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