The Lazlo Kubala Stecz statue is seen outside the stadium prior to the Copa del Semi Final first leg match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on Feb. 6, 2019. (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
FC Barcelona announced that Camp Nou will become the first soccer stadium in Europe to have dedicated 5G coverage. Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica and the GSMA mobile communications association will assist Barça with the project.
To enhance the 5G experience at Camp Nou, several wireless 360-degree cameras will be placed around the venue and connected to the network. Fans watching at home will be able to use virtual reality glasses to watch a live match from behind the goal or beside the players’ benches.
“The 5G Stadium-Immersive Reality in sports pilot program is further proof that the technology industry is diversifying towards new sectors, and becoming more and more relevant,” said John Hoffman, CEO of GSMA, in a press release. “With immersive reality, new generations will experience sports differently and sports fans will be offered unprecedented access, and will also be able to customize their own experiences from any angle in 360º.”
According to the release, the transition to 5G connectivity will provide higher bandwidth, lower latency and edge computing, which means the 360 degree cameras can be positioned inside the stadium without communication cables.
Camp Nou’s new 5G network will be rolled out as part of Espai Barça, a project that will renovate the club’s 61-year-old stadium and increase its seating capacity to 105,000. FC Barcelona will implement 5G immersive reality features both in the stands at Camp Nou as well as on the pitch, according to the team’s press release.
“Watching a world-class football match live is not a privilege that everyone can enjoy, and this project means we can dream of offering our customers the chance to take a front seat at sporting events,” added Emilio Gayo, president of Telefonica Spain.
Although FC Barcelona does not provide a timetable for when the 5G upgrades at Camp Nou will be complete, a recent study indicated that many network operators are planning to introduce 5G in time for key 2020 sporting events such as the Olympics and UEFA European Championship. (Although Euro 2020 will be played at stadiums across Europe, including the San Mamés in Bilbao, Spain, no games are scheduled for the Camp Nou.) This past year, FC Barcelona was named SportTechie’s Most Outstanding Sports Team and the club’s investment in 5G technology is a sign that Barca continues to be a leader in sports-tech innovation.