Research shows: Only 0.2 percent of all matches expose professional football players to close encounters

The Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and sports tech company Inmotio investigated close encounters during football matches and the accompanying exposure to other players. Inmotio’s research focuses on close encounters during two full seasons and concluded that in only 0.2 percent of all matches, player couples were exposed to close contact for more than 30 seconds. This create opportunities for professional sports leagues from all over the world to start their (professional) competitions. The most important findings are that limiting the time of taking corners and regulating celebrations are the crucial in the prevention of close encounters in football.

No more cheering, limited time on corners

Vincent van Renesse, CEO of Inmotio: “The research clearly has a global impact, especially now that sports around the globe are slowly starting up again. We are extremely proud that the KNVB asked us to lead the research and create the baseline for close encounters in football. One of the findings is that player couples tend to cluster during moments of set pieces (corners), VAR decisions, celebrations of goals and injury treatments. Some of these moments can be reduced or eliminated by setting smart guidelines. Changing goal celebrations can result in up to a 35% reduction in close encounters, whilst reducing the time allowed for taking a corner can result in up to a 45% reduction in mean player pairing exposure. We hope our research will benefit many professional sports leagues across the globe and we are open to research this topic with other leagues and federations.”

Vincent van Renesse, CEO of Inmotio about the research:

“We hope our research will benefit many professional sports leagues across the globe.”

One billion data points in 482 Eredivisie matches

Floris Goes works as Data Scientist in the research group that investigated close Encounters in collaboration with the Royal Dutch KNVB. “Close encounters calculate the cumulative distance between player couples. We were able to research over one billion data points in 482 Eredivisie matches over the seasons 2018/2019 and 2019/2020. In our research, we’ve focused on quantifying close encounters over multiple distances. The Dutch FA is the first football federation that actively opened their research facilities with Inmotio as their Innovation Partner. The next step is to research the training exercises, which enables us to determine whether we can provide optimized training situations for the Covid-19 period.”

If you are interested in the research, you can find more information via the whitepaper: “Close Encounters”


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