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SkyCams and VAR — what technology does La Liga use to put on football matches?

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By Emma Beswick
SkyCams and VAR — what technology does La Liga use to put on football matches?

A referee's choice to use VAR to assist with a decision isn't arbitrary and the date and time of football matches run by La Liga aren't random.

Euronews had a tour of the RCD Espanyol de Barcelona stadium on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Here's a look at what technology is behind the Spanish men's top professional football division.

Video Assistant Referee (VAR)

A hot topic in the footballing world in recent years is the introduction of VAR.

It was used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and La Liga introduced it this season.

The technology used in the Spanish league allows referees to consult a team based in Madrid who can review decisions using a replay machine and footage from six different angles, which they feed back to the official.

VAR team in Madrid

Referees can also consult the footage themselves at the side of the pitch if they want to, although this isn't obligatory.

While the assistants can advise, the final decision rests with the referee who is on the pitch.

The technology is only permitted for use when there has been a red card, a penalty, a case of mistaken identity or a goal.

During the first 19 matchdays of La Liga Santander — in which 190 matches were played — the VAR system reviewed 2,280 incidents, after which the referee modified his final decision on 59 different occasions.


Among the technology it uses to televise football matches, in six of its stadiums, La Liga uses 38 4K cameras to provide replays showing all the angles of key moments.

These stadiums, including the RCD Espanyol de Barcelona, also use a "SkyCam" — a camera positioned on wires above the pitch that can record aerial shots.

'Sunlight' software

While not an issue everywhere in the world, Spain enjoys ample sunny days throughout the season.

With this in mind, officials at La Liga use software that predicts the natural light conditions for each match and indicates areas that will be sunny or shady in stadiums.

They can pinpoint the moments of the day when the sun might disturb fans, footballers and camera crews and plan matches accordingly.

Match analysis

La Liga uses big data to analyse the performance of all its clubs.

Possessions and passes, along with a plethora of other tactical elements are recorded for every player and match and communicated to the clubs.

They can use this data in training and to prepare for matches with other teams in the league.

"We provide this to all our teams from the bottom to the top," Carlos Ruiz-Ocana from La Liga, told Euronews. "This is our secret!"

Euronews brings you the latest on technology at the MWC on our website and social media platforms from Monday, February 25 to Wednesday, February 27.