How data revived this historic French football club

Since February 19, the Ulyces digital platform has been offering the Ultra Violet documentary series free of charge dedicated to the Toulouse Football Club (TFC). Two episodes have already been aired and they are proving to be exciting. The first particularly caught our attention because it addresses an interesting facet of the world of football: the use of data and artificial intelligence to recruit better.

The data to recruit smart

In the documentary, Damien Comolli explains: “Our approach was to say, if we do the same thing as the others, with less money than the others, we won't succeed”. He adds: “We said to ourselves “let's take a different approach with the use of data, statistics, for example”, it is a method which is quite unique in the world of football at the present time. »
Julien Demeaux, currently football data manager at the Toulouse club, agrees: “The recruitment process always starts with data. We cover about sixty championships today. We pass them through our algorithms and that will allow us to understand what a player does well, and what he does less well (…) it also helps us to find perhaps players who are undervalued on the Marlet ".
In detail, the TFC system also makes it possible to operate what the president describes as translation. Clearly, the tool is able to anticipate the level of performance of a player taking into account the level of Ligue 2 compared to his current championship.
Artificial intelligence at the service of Liverpool
And this mode of selection seems to work perfectly well. The club thus has the best passer and the best scorer in the second division with Rhys Healey, Branco van den Boomen.
Note that artificial intelligence is increasingly used in the world of football. Liverpool recently entered into a partnership with Google's DeepMind.
The company's researchers trained a model using data provided by the team on every Premier League game played between 2017 and 2019. It turns out that the AI can spot certain details that are not necessarily seen by the player. human eye. This applies to the risk of injury, but also to tactical advice, such as attacking on one side of the field or facing a particular opponent, playing short or long…
Sports offers an exciting opportunity for researchers to test AI systems assisting humans in complex, real-time decisions in a dynamic multiagent environment.
Our team explores how AI techniques can transform decision-making by coaches and players alike:

— DeepMind May 7, 2021

Far from being infallible, this device must always be used with a critical eye. It requires the presence of experts to analyze the results and sort them out. Managers can therefore rely on these new tools to analyze the flaws and strengths of the team and their opponents.

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