Scottish Football Club Rangers FC Eyes AI to Assess Players' Injury Risks

Fifty-four-time Scottish Premiership winner Rangers FC announced a partnership deal with Zone7 to study its players' injury records and predict when they could suffer such an uneasy situation. 

As The Athletic first reported, the machine processes enormous data by analyzing every player's patterns, including their injury history, sleeping schedules, and training data. It gives an end-result of a lengthy analysis about who and when this player could get injured and what type of training should be adjusted. 

"Sometimes we suggest limiting game minutes, sometimes we say player x should do 80 percent of running, 75 percent of sprinting, and 120 percent of something else," the company's founders, Tal Brown, told the sports publication. The CEO believes that their AI product can detect over 70 to 75 percent of muscle injuries just a week before players feel them. 

Over three years, Zone7 has analyzed over 500 training sessions in 40 clubs, allowing the AI to understand coaching schedules, philosophies, and individual traits of a player.  

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Not the First Time

Rangers FC joins a laundry list of 40 football clubs that use such technology for its benefits. Brown founded Zone7 with Eyal Eliyakim in 2017, and one of their notable clients is Getafe CF, a current Spanish top-flight league-er.

For a short period of time, Getafe stopped using the technology at the beginning of 2018 through 2019 to compare the results. A report by BBC Sports revealed that Getafe only had eight injuries in the entire 2018-2019 campaign, making them the bottom of the league's injury table.

From August to October, Getafe lost a total of 96 missing days each month from injuries. The number plummetted to just 35 in the second period where they started using the technology again. Getafe ended up finishing the fifth and qualified for the Europa League group stage. 

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Injury Threats

Above all European top-flight leagues, English Premier League players face worse injury threats. Zone7 reveals that playing eight fixtures in thirty days can increase injury risk by 25 percent compared to other leagues with four or five matches in a month. 

The current victim to injury threats is Liverpool, who recently lost most of their regular starters from injuries and COVID-19: Thiago, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Mo Salah, Joe Gomez, Fabinho, and Virgil van Dijk.

Manchester United's boss Ole Gunna Solskjaer and Manchester City's Pep Guardiola have called out the English FA to protect its players by allowing five subs in a match. 

The Scottish side is sitting comfortably atop the Scottish Premiership table. Injuries can always get the best out of the strongest starting XI in the world, especially during an unprecedented time like this where fixtures get more rigid, and players still have to travel overseas for international football despite the coronavirus concern. 

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