AI to Revolutionize Player Scouting in Latin American Soccer

Sevilla FC’s collaboration with IBM has resulted in ‘Scout Advisor,’ an AI tool that revolutionizes player scouting by combining data analysis and expert opinions. This innovation sets a precedent for soccer clubs across Latin America to enhance their recruitment processes.

Sevilla Soccer Club’s latest acquisition isn’t a star player but an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tool. Developed in partnership with IBM, ‘Scout Advisor’ is designed to assist scouts in identifying new talent. This groundbreaking technology analyzes data to generate comprehensive reports on potential signings, aligning them with the team’s needs.

Elías Zamora, Sevilla FC’s Director of Data, elaborates on the capabilities of this tool in an interview with EFE. He emphasizes that ‘Scout Advisor’ is a pivotal development for a club that embraces technological revolutions and has a rich tradition in scouting. “We combine numerical and categorical approaches based on human knowledge and powerful raw data from classic scouting to find players who excel both competitively and in expert evaluations,” Zamora states.

Enhancing Scouting Efficiency

The AI-driven Scout Advisor starts with natural language descriptions to identify players based on significant characteristics, such as financial, physical, kinematic, technical, and tactical attributes. This process involves a sophisticated understanding of the search criteria. Zamora provides an example: “If we’re looking for a key striker, the AI understands that he should be tall, strong, good at headers, can hold off central defenders, and create second chances. It then narrows down the reports from potentially 200,000 to just seven.”

This ability to differentiate semantic content from expert opinions and convert qualitative insights into quantitative data is crucial. ‘Scout Advisor’ doesn’t just identify potential players but evaluates them, offering actionable responses. Traditionally, player recruitment relied on a mix of subjective human observation and manual data analysis, a time-consuming process with limited scope.

Broader Applications of AI in Soccer

Sevilla FC’s use of AI extends beyond scouting. The club also uses AI for ticket sales, event management, and identifying potential sponsors. A notable project, ‘AIFans,’ developed with the Spanish startup DruID, aims to characterize all fan interactions globally within Sevilla’s digital ecosystem. This allows for advanced segmentation and hyper-individualized offers based on fan interests, utilizing computational methodologies and access to data from over 220,000 fans.

By developing its AI-based tools, Sevilla FC positions itself as a soccer club and a technological enterprise. The club serves as a “laboratory” for creating solutions that can benefit other teams, functioning as a “technology consultancy.” “A soccer club is very complex; it’s not just about excelling in the game but managing a wide range of verticals that generate economic resources,” explains Zamora.

Implications for Latin American Soccer

Integrating AI in soccer scouting is particularly relevant for clubs across Latin America. These clubs often need more financial resources and a vast pool of untapped talent across diverse regions. AI tools like ‘Scout Advisor’ can help streamline scouting processes, making them more efficient and data-driven.

Latin American soccer clubs traditionally rely on local scouts and networks to identify talent. While this method has yielded some success, it is inherently limited by human observation’s subjective nature and the sheer volume of potential players. AI can revolutionize this process by comprehensively analyzing player capabilities and potential, ensuring that clubs can make more informed decisions.

Furthermore, the use of AI in scouting aligns with broader trends in global sports, where data analytics and technology are increasingly critical to decision-making. For Latin American clubs, adopting such technologies can enhance their competitiveness on the international stage, attracting better players and potentially increasing their revenue through improved performance.

A Vision for the Future

The successful implementation of ‘Scout Advisor at Sevilla FC sets a precedent for how AI can be integrated into soccer operations. This technology offers Latin American clubs a path forward, combining rich scouting traditions with modern data analytics to optimize player recruitment.

The projected entire operation of ‘Scout Advisor’ by this summer marks a significant milestone for Sevilla FC and inspires other clubs to follow suit. By embracing AI, Latin American soccer clubs can enhance their scouting efficiency, ensure better player selection, and improve their on-field performance.

Also read: Latin American Employees Experience Lower Workplace Anger According to Gallup

Adopting AI in soccer scouting, exemplified by Sevilla FC’s ‘Scout Advisor,’ represents a significant step forward. For clubs in Latin America, this technology offers a way to overcome traditional scouting challenges, leveraging data and expert insights to build stronger teams. As the soccer world continues to evolve, the integration of AI will likely become a standard practice, helping clubs of all sizes to achieve their full potential.

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