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Sport Analytics Students Visit Italy for First-Hand Look at How Data is Revolutionizing Soccer


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While in Italy, sport analytics students enjoyed visits to cultural landmarks such as the Colosseum in Rome.

Soccer–or football as it’s known outside the United States–is the world’s most popular sport.

Analytics is the sport industry’s most popular tool as it’s transforming every aspect of the game, from player performance and team strategy to fan engagement and business models.

Over spring break, 20 sport analytics majors from the Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Italy and witness first-hand the impact of analytics on the highest level of soccer. The eight-day trip to Milan, Bologna, Florence and Rome was part of Department of Sport Management Professor Rodney Paul’s sport analytics course which explores how data is revolutionizing soccer.

“The international experience, in general, is extremely important for our students, but it also gives them a perspective of how analytics are used in different sports at different levels internationally,” says Paul, director of the Sport Analytics program in Falk College. “The students were not merely observers, they actively wrote and presented sport analytics research to the clubs we visited.”

Sport analytics students present to officials from the Bologna FC Club during their Spring 2024 trip to Italy.

From left to right, students Nick Rovelli, Jack Taliano, Aidan Corr, Theo Schmidt, and Ben Jennings present to Bologna FC Club officials Luca Saputo, Director of Business Optimization, and Yuri Dell’Atti, Chief Data Analyst.

The students met with analytics staff members and other team officials from elite soccer clubs across Italy while also exploring the culture, history and food of the ancient European country that’s surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. As one of the trip’s many highlights, the students attended an Italian Serie A league game between AC Milan and Empoli before more than 70,000 fans at Milan’s San Siro Stadium (AC Milan won 1-0).

The students were accompanied on the trip by Paul, Sport Analytics Program Coordinator Jackie Dorchester G’10, and co-faculty member Ed Lippie, who worked with AS Roma of the Italian Serie league from 2013-20 as a senior performance consultant and head performance coach.

“With our connections we had the privilege of behind-the-scenes access, demonstrating to the students the variety of positions their skill sets match and the opportunities that exist internationally,” Dorchester says. “The value is building on Syracuse University’s Academic Strategic Plan by allowing the students to participate in a study abroad or study away setting, with considerations to their academic goals and financial circumstances.”

Students Jake Graff ’24 and Zachary Silverstein ’26 say it was fascinating to learn how Italian soccer clubs utilize data compared to sports teams in the United States.

“Clubs with all levels of financial resources and historical success are embracing analytics and finding ways to utilize them in areas that are best for them,” says Graff, a sport analytics major with an information management and technology minor. “Everyone collects and uses data differently, so being able to see numerous perspectives from a league like Serie A was eye-opening.”

Adam Goodman ’25, a sport analytics major with an economics minor, admits he’s not the biggest soccer fan but says it was valuable for his career goals to understand how soccer teams at the highest level approach their analytics.

“I think the main takeaway in terms of my career was the change in the way I think,” Goodman says. “The program allowed me to immerse myself in all aspects of soccer analytics, which, going forward, will change the way I approach future research.”

For the full story and a video about the trip to Italy, please visit the Falk College website.

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