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Remembering the great career of Diego Maradona in Buenos Aires with Homefans

Tomas tells us about the virtual tour he hosts in memory of Diego Maradona’s early career in Argentinos Juniors.

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Once a month, Tomas holds a virtual tour of Buenos Aires and tells Maradona’s story. Today, Tomas shares with us all his knowledge about Diego’s time with Argentinos Juniors. If you’re a football fan and a Fanstriker reader you can use our discount code VTFANSTRIKER for a discount while booking your next virtual tour on Homefans.

 

Today we’re taking a trip to Argentina to discover the youth of Diego Maradona. Joined by Thomas, a young Argentinian and a specialist of Argentinian football history. Tomas was born and raised in La Paternal, the same neighbourhood where the Diego Armando Maradona stadium is located. He is offering to visit the story of Diego Maradona here in Buenos Aires. Everything is made online. An unique virtual experience.

Hello Tomas, as I mentioned in the introduction, you’re a super fan of Argentinos Juniors. How did this passion came to you? Why are you a fan of the club? Did it come from your family or from your friends?

Yes, in a neighborhood like this, in which the club is also the center of the social life, it is hard to avoid Argentinos Juniors and not be involved in the club. So if you like football, which in Argentina is quite a big deal, you tend to be linked with the club even if you like any other sports. Then you fall in love with the club. The sense of belonging is huge here. It is hard to not be a part of the club’s community. For example, I’m a fan since I can recall because everything happened in or around the club here in the local community of La Paternal.

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People in La Paternal pay tribute to Maradona in the streets

Football culture in Argentina

So you share your passion with everybody in the community, not only your family, but also your friends and everybody in the neighborhood is an Argentinos Juniors fan. There is no traitors around? (Laugh)

No, most most of the people here support the club, actually. It is hard to be apart from it. Even those who are not supporters of the club then tend to appreciate it in a very special way because it is also part of their lives.

On a day to day basis you can go ahead and talk about Argentinos Juniors with anyone, right?

Yes, they have the emblem of the club in their shops, for example. You get to see jerseys or clothing of the club all the time here in the streets of the neighborhood. I still live here. I’ve been living here since I was born and I returned to our neighborhood last year. And yes, it is it feels like home.

There is a big fascination across the world, for Argentinian football. In your opinion, what makes it so special?

I think the most special thing about Argentinian football is that we produce, together with Brazil, of the most skilful players in the world. I think it happens because besides sports, football is the main entertainment people have especially in the working class. Kids spend their whole day running behind the ball, without realizing that they are actually improving their technique all the time. Most of it happen because they tend to play in any random piece of ground they can find in the streets. So when they are a little bit older, they go to a club, and then it is a matter of polishing those rough diamonds created by the spontaneous soccer played that takes place all the time in the streets and in the neighborhoods of this country. I think that the technique and the quality of the players is what makes Argentinian footballers different than anywhere else in the world.

Maradona sanctuary

Maradona is everywhere in La Paternal

Maradona : a legend close to Buenos Aires’ community

So football is everywhere all the time, I believe it’s it’s what makes Argentinian football players so good. Today we’re here to talk about an Argentinian legend of football, Maradona. You live in La Paternal the neighborhood of Buenos Aires were Argentinos Juniors and the Maradona stadium are located. Maradona started his professional career in Argentinos Juniors. Do some of your relatives remember seeing him play in the stadium?

Yes. When Diego came to the club, he was only eight years old. When he was playing in the academy, everybody knew about him in the neighborhood. So when he was about to play on the First Division, and people knew he would play soon, they would arrange their work and everything to attend to the stadium, just in case Diego appeared. You could see him playing in the Academy, and he was an outstanding player since he was a child. An uncle of mine had a hardware store at that time located five blocks away from the stadium. He was taking turns with his co-workers to take care of the store when the matches were taking place. In 1976, he skipped his shift at the store to watch Argentinos Juniors game against Talleres de Córdoba, just in case Diego appeared for his first match. He was a lucky on that day because that was the Diego’s first match.

homefans-maradona

As years went by, Diego became famous all over the country. People from every single club came to the stadium just to see Diego play. Soon the club had to rent a bigger stadium in order to be able to host the huge crowds that came to see him. At that time, we had a very old wooden stadium. Let’s keep in mind that I’m talking about the late 70s. Here in Argentina, there was just one match per week shown on TV. So in order to see football, you had to attend to the stadium. Everybody said Diego was so incredible that you had to see him with your own eyes. So in a matter of months, all of my relatives, all of the members of my family, who are around 50 years old now, attended to the stadium to see Diego play. He was really a big deal in a time without social media and with fewer press coverage. So yes, it was outstanding.

I think that it’s incredible to take that into the context of the 1970s. As you said, just by word of mouth, people knew about how great this player was. At such a young age, he attracted so many viewers in the stadium and I believe that’s what makes him truly special. There was no time where he was this underrated underdog player. He just came on the scene being a legend.

He was an immediate legend. He was only 15 years old when he he made his first appearance. So we are talking about a child who was playing along with the top stars in the Argentinian league at the time.

A virtual tour of Buenos Aires to know everything about Maradona and his time with Argentinos juniors’.

Every month you collaborate with Homefans and offer a tour of La Paternal for Maradona fans, hosted on Zoom. So you have fans from around the world joining you. You tell them everything about the neighborhood and how it was impacted by Maradona. What are the highlights of the tour? And what can people see?

Yes, it was a great initiative that we could arrange with together with Homefans. We can share Diego’s story and his golden age with people from all over the world as you said, and including those who might not know about Diego’s first club. It is great to have a camera to be in the same streets he used to walk when he lived here and to share the story of Diego’s golden age, with people from every place in the world. We had visitors from Serbia, Croatia, France, Northern Europe, in the Netherlands, everywhere. We didn’t want to make a tour about the recent episodes of Diego’s life, but about his golden age.

Maradona Street Art

We’re lucky to have all the main sites within just a couple of blocks. We visit the stadium in which he made his first appearance. We have the street art, which is all over the neighbourhood and increasing on the recent days. Those paintings show Diego at different stages of his career but also other key individuals like Francis Cornejo, who was his first coach. Everything happens around the stadium. We cover the whole perimeter outside of the stadium. We go to the sanctuary, which was built a couple of days after he passed away. We also visit some of the beautiful paintings we have around. I conduct everything, the stories and the meaning of all the things we get to see. I tried to make the visitors understand how deep Diego’s impact was on this club and on the local community.

We can agree that Diego put us on the map. We were just a random neighborhood with a random club in Argentina. Diego’s appearance really changed history. So that’s the key point we want to share with people. It is about sharing the story of Diego at the time he called his golden age. Of course, we would prefer to do this tour in person. We will do it when people are able to travel but nowadays virtual tours are the best alternative we have to keep spreading these beautiful stories.

La Paternal : a neighborhood marked by the prodigy Maradona

We’re glad that we can have some some experiences around football thanks to Zoom even though we have to stay home. What’s your favourite part of the tour? What’s maybe something that really surprises people? Can you share a memorable anecdote about Maradona and his time in Argentinos Juniors?

There are many parts of this tour that are special to me because I was one of the people who designed it, I’m not just the person that hosts it. The new sanctuary, which was built recently after Diego passed away, is one of my favorite part of the tour. It is located inside the stadium and it includes all the offerings that people left for Diego’s memory in recent days, of course, and it has grown day after day. You know people leave jerseys, soccer balls, football boots, the flags of their teams, everything! Everyone has space to pay him tribute. It is quite moving for us. We are still soft hearted about it because everything is recent. There is a beautiful Diego painting on the back of the sanctuary. I like it a lot.

homefans-tomas-painting

Tomas and his friends contributed to the Maradona tributes with this painting

Then speaking of anecdotes and stories, I have a lot of them. We added to the Q&A part. People ask a lot about Diego’s story. I got a lot of interest and deep questions about Diego’s matches, about the key moments of his career. It shows that they’re really into it. So I love the Q&A because I get to see how involved people get with my storytelling. I see how involved they are in this tour in which I just share the passion I have for Diego and for the club. As I told you before, I try to explain how important he was for the club and the whole community. He was so impactful that people spontaneously gather around the stadium specifically. They did not gather around the Diego’s house or anywhere else. And in the following days, the gatherings became bigger and bigger, because the stadium became like a sacred place in the city.

Even in the strange situation we are going through with COVID, people come to pay tribute to Diego. It is quite touching for us because we belong to this community. It was like losing one of us, losing the best of us. That’s when we got the idea of making the tour, not to talk about the sad things that just happened, but talk about his best years. It was a way for us to explain why the community’s reaction was so spontaneous, so deep and so lovely. It was incredible, and we are still quite soft hearted about it. It is very emotional for us to talk about it. After a couple days, the club built the sanctuary I was telling you about. It is a beautiful place. People can visit it on any weekday. What has been happening here is very touching. Seeing people with not only Argentinos Juniors jerseys, but also with the national team equipment or with other teams jerseys. That really shows that Diego was the king, the biggest legend of Argentinian football and everybody was surrendering to his feet. They did that in our stadium. So it is officially the most Maradonian place in monasteries you can find.

That’s definitely the place you would want to have a tour and if you are a Maradona fan. Currently it’s not possible to go there physically but you can go there virtually thanks to your virtual tour. Thanks to you and Homefans we can discover Maradona’s legacy virtually through Zoom. I believe it’s one of the best thing that we could do right now to remember what a great player he was.

It is nice to remember his Golden Ages and specifically. When everything was pure and just about football.

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Every fan can leave a message on this wall to remember Maradona

Participate to the Maradona Tour in Buenos Aires

I strongly recommend anybody that is reading to this interview to give it the Maradona tour a try because it’s really fascinating. You learn a lot about Maradona and the way people truly appreciate him and his impact on football in the whole neighborhood. Thank you very much for answering all of our questions Thomas. I can’t wait for February the 20th for the next Maradona tour to happen and to see a people’s reactions because I believe it’s truly fantastic. Where can people find out more about you and the tour?

You can check Homefans social media and also the Homefans website in which you can book the next tour. The next date is on the second weekend of February. You can join me for the Maradona tour that we were talking about. You can also join me for the Argentinos Juniors which is a different one in which we go around the stadium, the dressing rooms, the museum that we have on the club and on the pitch itself. So you can book these both virtual tours through Homefans. It is quite cheap, 7€ for the Maradona tour (5€ with the discount code VTFANSTRIKER). It is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon if you’re a football fan!

I am looking forward to these tours. I actually miss discovering new things about football and learning about football culture in different places. Click here if you’re interested in joining the virtual tour about Maradona on February 20th at 7pm CET. Bonus, you get a special discount if you’re a Fanstriker with the code VTFANSTRIKER. Thomas, thank you very much for this interview. I will see you on Zoom for your next tour. Bye.

Bye Bye. Thanks to you and thanks to all the listeners of the Fanstriker podcast.

Visit the Homefans shop to buy collector Maradona jerseys and South American jerseys. Apply code FANSTRIKER at check out for a 10% discount.

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In english

Watch the game from the POV of your favorite athlete

ActionStreamer is a wearable data streaming platform delivering breakthrough solutions across sports, entertainment, telecommunications, industrial, and defense. From custom wearables to real-time data movement, omnichannel content delivery and multi-stream media viewer, the company provides leagues and sports events with a fully customisable immersive viewing experience.

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ActionStreamer - Russell Wilson PPOV Smart Helmet @ Vikings

ActionStreamer brings sports fans closer to the action. The American company equips players with helmets that have cameras mounted on them. Greg Roberts, Head of Strategic Partnerships & Development at ActionStreamer, shared with us the company’s ambitions.

ActionStreamer gives fans a new perspective on the action and insights on the game

Thanks to advances in video stream processing, every fan can follow sporting events from the angle that suits them. For example, during car races, every fan can follow their favorite driver. During tennis competitions you can choose to follow the match that interests you the most. At a soccer match you can watch the action from the angle that best shows how the striker won over the goalkeeper.

ActionStreamer takes customisation and immersion to the next level. The American company allows fans to follow the action from a player’s point of view. With cameras mounted on players’ helmets and caps, viewers are right in the middle of the action. American soccer fans were able to test the device at the 2019 Pro Bowl, in the XFL, during Russell Wilson’s warm-ups or during the first season of Fan Controlled Football.

ActionStreamer’s solution does not just provide athletes with helmet cams. Their technology also captures data about biometric, speed and geo in real-time. This data is easily displayable live on broadcast.

From headsets to video streams management, ActionStreamer thought about everything

Giving fans a first-person viewing experience is a very ambitious idea. To make it a reality, the founding team of ActionStreamer faced two challenges: convincing players and making it easy to process all the video streams coming from the helmet cams.

ActionStreamer’s product development team works closely with helmet suppliers and players. The company integrates cameras in helmets that players already use. The goal is for players to not even notice they have different equipment.

Cowboys Riddell SpeedFlex_AT&T PPOV Solution email file size

Dallas Cowboys Riddell SpeedFlex helmet with camera

Once the footage is captured, the biggest challenge lies ahead: managing all the video streams. ActionStreamer worked with Verizon and T-Mobile to provide a solution that makes it fast and easy for broadcasters to process and redistribute video streams. Greg Roberts believes that the advent of 5G in stadiums will significantly enhance the viewer experience in the coming years. Video streams will be able to be processed and distributed faster. As a result, broadcasters will be able to offer more viewing angles. As a result, the experience will be more immersive for viewers.

“Think of our platform as a pipeline to omnichannel media and data insights offerings, including real-time HD video, audio, and subject data (biometric, speed, geo, etc.) that can be synchronized across an entire media footprint (broadcast, mobile, streaming, etc.). All of these data categories are captured from our custom-designed streaming wearables, and distributed to media endpoints through our proprietary data streaming and delivery methods. And now, through work with Verizon and T-Mobile, the data streaming platform runs on 5G”

The pathway to a more innovative viewing experience

ActionStreamer has deployed its device in several contexts. We’ve talked about helmet cams in the NFL and FCFL. For the 2020 World Series, players had cameras on their helmets and caps.

ActionStreamer’s device also lends itself to more original POVs. In the NFL, the Ref Cam offers some very interesting footage from the referee’s perspective.

ActionStreamer

Ref Cam in the NFL

In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets have experimented with a Hat Cam in pre-game. The dancers and pre-game hosts performed with ActionStreamer hats. The New York club broadcast this stream under the name “TeamHypeCam”. This initiative highlights the folklore of a basketball game and promotes the incredible experience basketball fans have at Barclays Center.

The system of inserting cameras and processing video streams leaves room for a lot of creativity. One could imagine the club’s mascot spending game days wearing an ActionStreamer cap. Clubs could also highlight the fan experience on match days by broadcasting a typical fan’s evening at the stadium in first person. The possibilities are endless!

ActionStreamer satisfies fans’ desire to be closer to the action. Advances in video streaming speed allow us to enjoy the action from the perspective of the live players. Many uses of this technology come to mind to enhance the fan experience. Like WaitTime, ActionStreamer’s impact extends beyond sports. The technology for processing on-board camera feeds is also used by the Air Force.

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In english

Fan Controlled Football League (FCFL): The most exciting fan experience of 2021

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Fan Controlled Football League FCFL

The Fan Controlled Football gives fans the opportunity to take control of a football league from A to Z. First they decided on the rules of the competition and then they took over their teams. With an engaging fan experience and an ultra immersive broadcast, the FCFL concludes a more than successful first season. Will this type of entertainment league format become a standard in the sports industry?

fcfl-celebrate

Zappers celebrate a touchdown

Fan Controlled Football responds to a growing demand for more fun, more immersive and easy-to-follow competitions

The FCFL embraces the changes in the entertainment industry

Over the past 40 years, technology has had a strong impact on the way new generations entertain themselves. A strong participative culture has emerged from social media. The democratization of gaming has created a need for interactivity in entertainment. Our ability to access thousands of pieces of information at any given moment has led to the development of entertainment products that adapt their pace and duration to the different moments in which they are consumed.

“Fast paced. Hard hitting. No replay. Running clock. All action.”

FCFL website

Thus, alongside traditional big leagues, whose rules were often established more than a century ago, “entertainment leagues” are gaining in popularity. In general, their success is based on the same pattern.

  1. Start with a traditional sport.
  2. Shorten the length of a game to appeal to casual fans.
  3. Change the rules to make the game faster and easier to follow.
  4. Make games more immersive even if it means infringing on the sports aspect of the game.

These are changes that would be difficult for the public to accept if they were made by a traditional league like the Premier League, the NFL or the NBA. New competitions, on the other hand, can put entertainment first without any problem. Rugby X, the XFL, the International Swimming League and even, to some extent, Formula E have been doing this. The Fan Controlled Football League takes this concept to the extreme.

fcfl-action

A football competition where fans decided to speed up the action

The FCFL is composed of 4 teams: the Glacier Boyz, the Wild Aces, the Beasts and the Zappers. The competition is played every Sunday in a high tech studio with rules that were chosen by the fans. Football is a rather slow sport. In the NFL the average game lasts more than three hours. The action often stops. NFL teams have large squads within which 3 squads of 11 players take turns on a 100 yard field. The FCFL is played 7vs7 on a 50-yard field with no special squads and no kicking. These new rules speed up the game. Matches are played in less than an hour (two 20-minute halves) without replay, without stopping the clock. No need to book your whole afternoon to follow a game anymore.

“New rules and a new format maximize excitement, substantially reduce penalties, and BRING BACK THE FUN!”

FCFL website

Like the XFL, the FCFL has reinvented touchdown conversions. The new system is just like the game: fast-paced and impressive. No more kicking. Fans can choose to have their team attempt a 5-yard conversion for 1 point or a 10-yard conversion for 2 points. The conversions have a wide receiver and a defensive back in 1vs1 confrontation while the quarterback has 3 seconds to throw the ball to his teammate.

A competition in tune with Generation Z

At a time when Generation Z is turning more and more to gaming, the FCFL uses many of the codes of this industry. First of all, it is a form of interactive entertainment. The fan experience of a FCFL game is a hybrid between an NFL game, fantasy football and a game of “The Yard” on Madden. Visually, the league is reminiscent of the gaming industry. In addition, the competition is broadcast on Twitch, which is very popular among gaming enthusiasts.

The pace of the game and the short format of the games also correspond to the consumption modes of Gen Z who would prefer to watch the highlights of an NFL game rather than dedicating their Sunday night to watching a full game. The weekly draft system is in line with this younger generation’s tendency to be fans of athletes rather than teams.

Fans build the league and manage their team from the ground up

In 2015, the founders of the FCFL had conducted an experiment by buying a team, the Salt Lake City Screaming Eagles, and delegating all decisions to the fans: the team name, the logo, the jersey design, the coach, recruiting the players. Following the success of this pilot, they decided to take it to the next level by creating a fan controlled league.

The DNA of the Fan Controlled Football League is the involvement of the fans in 100% of the decisions. From the rules of the game to calling plays during games and picking the coaches’ outfit, the fans are in control everything.

“(…) [T]he idea behind Fan Controlled Football lives with every fan who has ever yelled at a TV screen, thrown a remote control across the room or cheered wildly when their favorite team finally did the thing they wanted them to do. ”

FCFL website

Even before the first game, the fans were already involved in the creation of the league

The fans are decision makers in the creation of the league. The game’s rulebook perfectly illustrate this. Under each rule you can find the different options offered to the fans and the option they chose. Among other things, the fans could decide on the rules for overtime, the penalty system or the definition of a catch.

“Unlike traditional leagues, our focus is on optimizing everything on the field and through the entire fan experience. If something sucks, we’ll work with the fans.”

– FCFL website

When they sign up on the FCF app, fans choose a team. Throughout the season they are asked to make choices for their team. Every Wednesday, fans decide which new players will make their team’s roster during the draft.

Halfway between sports and video games, Fan Controlled Football allows fans to guide the action on the field

Every fan registered on FCF makes decisions for their team even on game days. Fans decide on team composition, but more importantly, they decide on plays. Like in the video game Madden, fans see a selection of possible plays for the next down and have the opportunity to vote for the one they think is best. The offensive team has 10 seconds to start the game after their fans have decided which strategy they should adopt.

fcfl-calling-plays

Fans can call plays live during the game

Fans are even part of the competition

As a fan, you’re asked to make these decisions all week, and it’s not without consequences. Every good decision you make earns you FanIQ. Calling the right play in a game or drafting top players will increase your FanIQ. The more FanIQ you have, the more your votes count. Also, by collecting experience badges your votes will have more power in certain situations.

Throughout the week, fans have the opportunity to earn Team Power for their team. These are bonuses that can help players on the field. For example, fans can earn a 5th down for their team.

glacier-boys-celebrating

A Glacier Boy celebrating

What can traditional competitions take away from Fan Controlled Football?

The beauty of traditional competitions is that over the years generations of athletes compete for the same trophy under the same rules. Fans have built their own traditions with family and friends around these competitions. Enforcing rule changes like those in the FCFL in the World Cup, the MLB or the NBA would not make much sense. However, these competitions can learn from what happens off the field in the FCFL.

Less protocol and more show

The FCFL is an entertainment league. The players’ entrance does not follow a protocol it meant to be spectacular. They enter the field like WWE fighters. It is a show in itself. On top of that, the design of the end zone allows for wild touchdown celebrations. The extremities of the field are deep to give the players room to express their joy. They are also equipped with flashing lights, lasers and smoke machines to emphasise on the players’ joy.

Wild-aces-celebrating

Broadcast innovation

The viewing experience of the FCF games is very immersive. A drone is used to follow the action and offer fans a “Madden View” just like in the EA video game. Players are mic’d up. ActionStreamer provides helmets equipped with cameras to follow the action in the first person POV. The arena is also equipped with 180° VR cameras. Fans are up close and personal with the action. This type of set up can be replicated in any type of sport. The NFL and MLB have already experimented with microphones on players as well as the ActionStreamer helmets equipped with cameras. The XFL is taking it a step further by conducting interviews with players on the sidelines during the game.

fcfl-madden-view

Madden View

Push forward celebrities who contribute to the league’s hype

Each team has celebrity owners who have an affinity for football. For example, the rapper Quavo from Migos is a star co-owner of the Glacier Boyz. He was a quarterback for his high school team and is a big Georgia Bulldogs fan. Former Seahawks and 49ers cornerback, Superbowl winner and multiple All Pro, Richard Sherman is also a co-owner of the Glacier Boyz. Finally, the third interesting profile is the youtuber and tiktoker Deestroying joined them as co-owner of the Glacier Boyz. He is former kicker at UCF, the NCAA excluded him from the competition following his commercial success on Youtube.

These celebrities bring attention to the league and contribute to its success. It is important to involve them in the competition. The variety of profiles among team owners allows to attract a wide audience to the FCFL. Just like Drake plays a big role in the Raptors’ fan base, even without owning a team, celebrities who have a strong affinity with a club can participate in the growth of the community.

“Power to the fans” is the FCF’s motto and the league walks the talk. By handing the fans full control of the competition, the FCFL offers the most engaging experience in the sports industry today. While this league format will likely not become a standard, we can expect to see more and more entertainment leagues emerge alongside the traditional leagues. Traditional leagues can learn from the FCFL’s focus on pre-game shows, immersive broadcasting and communication around industry personalities. 

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