In May 2018, FIFA announced that Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems that comprise “two optical tracking cameras located on the media tribune” will track the positional data of players and ball at the 2018 World Cup.
These data, real-time positional data and video, are offered live at World Cup games on two devices: “one for the team analyst observing the match from the media tribune, another for the coaching team at the bench”.
Post-game, the positional data are made available on the FIFA World Cup website for secondary data analysis.
I have started to compile these date in a GitHub repository.
An example of the data is this matrix from the opening game of the tournament for Russian players:
The data available are:
- Player squad number
- Player name
- Distance covered in metres (total; when team in possession; when team not in possession)
- Percentage of time spent: opposition half; attacking third; penalty area)
- Number of sprints
- Top speed
- Percentage of time in activity zones 1 to 5
The activity zones are defined as:
- Zone 1: 0-7 km/h
- Zone 2: 7-15 km/h
- Zone 3: 15-20 km/h
- Zone 4: 20-25 km/h
- Zone 5: >25 km/h
After 14 games, Aleksander Golovin‘s 12,706 metres traversed remains the most distance recorded in a game by a single player.
The list of players who have covered most distance in metres per team in the games (with a link to the data) is:
A note about traversing
I am keen to connect 2018 technology with 1930s attempts to measure distances in sport contexts. The pioneers described movements as ‘traversing‘ and provided distance estimates.
In his doctoral thesis, Lloyd Messersmith (1942:2) shared his data from basketball collected with a measuring device “which could be used in determining distances traversed” and that provided information about “distances traversed on offense and defense, and the effect of position played on distance traversed”.