Top flight Chinese football club Dalian Pro has announced a collaboration with world football's governing body, FIFA, which will result in the establishment of a Football Technology Innovation Hub at Dalian Pro's new state-of-the-art academy in Dalian.
The collaboration, which was facilitated by the FIFA Partner Dalian Wanda Group, will run for an initial three-year period. The two parties will work closely to continue the development of football in China with a specific focus on research, testing and developing standards for new technologies aimed primarily at youth and grassroots football.
The agreement is another strong sign of the Wanda Group and Dalian Pro's ongoing commitment to inspiring the next generation of Chinese football players and fans. Through the collaboration with Dalian Pro, FIFA will have access to Wanda's new academy in Dalian where they will trial new technologies and innovations in football together with Dalian Pro players from all age groups. Dalian Pro and FIFA also plan to co-host innovation days, aimed at providing stakeholders a platform to showcase and test the latest developments in football technology on a regular basis.
Dalian Pro Head Coach Rafa Benitez said: "The opportunity to collaborate with FIFA is very important for us. As a coach you need to make sure you have access to the latest technology. To be part of this project is good for Dalian Pro and also good for FIFA who can use our players and our academy to innovate and apply new technologies. Having the latest software in our hands will enable us to try and improve our players and hopefully we will see international players for China coming from our academy in the future"
Lincoln Zhang, Chairman of Dalian Pro and President of the Wanda Real Estate Group said: "The collaboration between FIFA and Dalian Pro is a great example of how the Wanda Group can leverage our diverse partnerships in football to continue to grow the sport in China. I am excited to see this collaboration come to life and for the new academy in Dalian to be home to some of world football's most exciting innovation and technology".
FIFA Deputy Secretary General, Mattias Grafström said: “FIFA believes that football in China has a bright future and teams like Dalian Pro are driving this future ever closer. Dalian Pro shares our commitment to leveraging technology to improve football at all levels. Pairing the state of the art facilities at the Dalian Pro academy with the prospect of a regional innovation hub in China will unlock the huge potential for all football stakeholders interesting in keen to take the next step forward.”
The Innovation Hub project is already in its first phase with FIFA and Dalian Pro working together on a pilot project for a new Athletes Management System, which will be followed by further projects in the months to come.