Data & Football


 The desire of major data companies to push statistics from the realm of the esoteric to the everyday makes the role of data apparent in how sport is broadcasted, talked about and consumed. My current research programme uses mixed methods to map out expertise in the area of performance measurement at the intersection of data science, algorithmic culture, media and sport. 

This programme also promotes interdisciplinary collaborations with statistics and applied mathematics as well as engagement with research users and the public through specialist events i.e. Hackathons and Data Study Groups.

I have been PI of the Data Study Group “Player Pathways: Understanding career paths that deliver success for professional football players and clubs” run in partnership with transfer market intelligence company PlayerLens. Data study groups (DGS) are highly-competitive yearly events/extended hackathons where the Alan Turing Institute, the UK centre for Data Science, showcases their research to their partners and the wider academic community. Selected industrial partners pay a premium attendance fee and are asked to contribute by making available unique and highly valuable datasets. 

A team of data scientists led by myself took part to the first data hackathon a Football Association ever organised (Oct 18) and the publication of the report was seen on Twitter by more than 5,000 people within the first three weeks and got 263 downloads on Edinburgh Research Explorer. Ours was the only team of academics invited to present to the prestigious Opta Pro Analytics Forum 2018, in front of an audience of Premier League club analysts and sport directors. A student of the University of Siena (Leonardo Mori) developed his MSc dissertation based on the framework proposed in this study. Three students from the University of Edinburgh (Pavlos Gogousis; Ioannis Stournaras; Michail Pourpoulakis) took the analysis further to develop a web application based on our study:

It happens I also hold a UEFA B Coaching Licence from the Italian Football Association, a Match Analyst Certificate from SICS and an - unfinished - UEFA A Licence with the Scottish Football Association.


(1) This is a recent presentation I gave to the Society for the Social Study of Science (4S) Conference in New Orleans on my study of the freelance football analytics community.

(2) This is the abstract of a paper I am currently writing with Giolo Fele on video analysis of football matches, recently presented at the Conference of the International Institute for Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis Mannheim (Germany) | July 2–5, 2019.