Is this Real Sociedad scarf the future of football?

Lee Jarvis

Football scarves have been a vital part of fans’ match day attire since the early 1900s. Not only do they keep supporters warm on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke, they have helped create unrivalled displays of passion inside football grounds all over the world and aid supporters to show off their team colours, even if the half and half version does receive some negative press.

Now, starting in their impressive 3-1 victory over Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid on Sunday, Real Sociedad have decided to give their scarf a unique makeover.

The Basque club believe they have created the future of football, changing the match day experience for supporters - using a traditional football scarf.

The Spanish side are hoping to change the way the club interacts with its fans, by powering their supporter’s scarves with SOLOS Smart Wearable technology.

Real Sociedad want fans to be able to enter the stadium by using the scarf and not by using a traditional ticket or membership card.
Real Sociedad want fans to be able to enter the stadium by using the scarf and not by using a traditional ticket or membership card.

Each scarf will be embedded with intelligent technology that connects wirelessly to the supporters phone, allowing them to enter the ground completely ticketless and without having to queue, giving them a pass to the entire stadium and creating a new way for the club to interact with its fans.

Real Sociedad have said they want to reward fans for purchasing authentic merchandise and surprise them with exclusive offers in the club shop, food and drinks discounts during the match, access to VIP areas and parking and messages from players directly to their phone after the game.

The club trialled the technology in their victory over Los Blancos at the weekend, which kept them in 8th place in the La Liga table with just one game to go. It was also the White and Blues’ second win over Madrid this season.

500 scarves have been created, with the aim of rolling out more for the start of the new season, when the app connected to the scarves will officially launch.

The decision makers at Spain’s top division, La Liga, support the idea and are keen to make it as easy as possible for Real Sociedad to begin using this technology and encourage other clubs in the league to do the same.

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The club are sure this is the future of match day experiences for fans, and even expect Premier League clubs and even others sports to follow suit, making ticketless entry and interaction with fans via an app the norm, bringing the fans closer to the players in a way never experienced before, but also to create a new revenue steam.

The technology also enables clubs to collect information, track purchasing habits and connect data in real-time to customers.

Real Sociedad's players celebrate at the end of the Spanish League football match between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid at the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.
Real Sociedad's players celebrate at the end of the Spanish League football match between Real Sociedad and Real Madrid at the Anoeta Stadium in San Sebastian.

Real Sociedad’s Head of Digital Transformation Juan Iraola said, “This is an opportunity for us to create the best possible experience for our fans, rewarding them for their loyalty to the club and to transform Anoeta into a world-leading smart stadium.

“Real Sociedad’s digital transformation project was launched as a result of the remodelling process of the new Stadium, there was little point in building a new stadium and discard the digital realm, so therefore it was decided to implement the digital in all areas: fan engagement, sport area, business processes and physical spaces.

“The Stadium is the most important space, here the main objective is that fans have a unique experience at it, we are going to accomplish this objective delivering great contents, products and experiences to them.”

Real Sociedad's Anoeta stadium.
Real Sociedad's Anoeta stadium.

Real Sociedad are keen to stay flexible and change the items the technology exist in, meaning it could appear in a club shirt as well as a scarf, but we will have to wait until next season to see whether the idea will catch on and change the way football fans interact with their club and experience a live match.

SOLOS, the creators of the product, were winners of the best wearable technology at the 2019 Yahoo Sports Technology Awards.

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