Vodafone trials fan-assisted refereeing


UK communications provider Vodafone has introduced a 5G mobile network on the Isles of Scilly and used it to deploy fan-assisted refereeing for the first time.

The Isles of Scilly, which are off the coast of Cornwall in the south west of the UK, hosts the world’s smallest football league of just two teams and uses a well-known Video-Assistant Referee (VAR) system. With the use of Vodafone’s 5G network, the first game of the season was introduced to Fan-Assistant Refereeing (FAR).

The large capacity, faster speeds, and quick response times of Vodafone’s 5G service offers higher levels of connectivity to allow customers to communicate simultaneously when network demand is at its peak. This opens up a new range of possibilities for fans to experience and enjoy their favourite sports online.

Supporters of the Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers on the Isles of Scilly were equipped with Samsung S10 5G handsets to enable them to review incidents just after they happened. Instead of catching up on the ref’s decisions after the game, supporters on the main island of St Mary’s were able to have their own say on several fouls, a disputed goal, and two contested penalties as the game was being played.

Following a quick online vote, fans’ decisions were relayed to Paul Charnock, the match official at pitch side. The Woolpack Wanderers won the first match to use the technology 4 – 3, with only minutes to spare.

Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Football League Anthony Gibbons said, “I have never seen the referee so happy after a game. He was empowered by the other islanders to make bold decisions – and not always in my team’s favour! Vodafone’s involvement with the league has got everyone excited.”

Vodafone UK’s CEO Nick Jeffery said, “This was great fun for the fans, and we’re very happy to have been the first network operator to take 5G to the Isles of Scilly.

“Vodafone has 5G in more places than any other network, with 77 towns and cities across the UK and Europe now live. Our commitment to rolling out our network to non-urban locations is very strong, as our recent Shared Rural Network agreement with the Government and other network operators proves. I’m very proud that Vodafone is travelling those extra miles to connect rural and isolated communities.”

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