5 Ways the Apple iPad Can Revolutionize Soccer

The Apple iPad presents a unique opportunity to revolutionize the way that we, as soccer fans, consume our favorite sport.

Some of you may be resistent to the iPad. After all, you may have a laptop and you probably have a mobile phone. So what use cases are there for you to add another device into your life? While it’s not the perfect device for everyone, I do believe that it has the potential to revolutionize the sport.


The iPad is not a replacement for your computer. It’s a media consumption device. It’s a way for you to watch movies, soccer matches and videos as well as listen to audiobooks or podcasts. It’s much more than a giant iPhone. Think of it as television 2.0.

I’m not sure about you, but I often watch soccer games on television with a laptop either next to me or on my lap. I can check scores from other games, look up stats, jot down ideas for blog posts or watch games being televised live at the same time on FoxSoccer.tv. But what usually happens is that the laptop begins to generate a lot of heat, gets uncomfortable and is a pain in the neck to keep opening and closing whenever I need to use it.

With that said, here are 5 ways I believe the Apple iPad can revolutionize soccer:

  1. Video games. The Apple iPad is a fantastic gaming device. It’s like having an Xbox or Playstation in the palm of your hands. And for software companies, it opens up the possibilities to take popular soccer games from the consoles and port them over to the iPad. Imagine Football Manager, Championship Manager, Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA 10 on an iPad. It’s the perfect size for a game like that. Plus, it’s a lot more portable than lugging a laptop or game station around with you. And it’s easy to share with your friends if they want to join in the experience of playing a brilliant soccer game.
  2. Watching matches. I originally thought the Apple iPhone would be the ideal technology to get soccer fans out of their homes to watch matches, but AT&T has been resistent to allowing companies to stream content via 3G. Plus the screen size is too small to really enjoy a match. The Apple iPad is a perfectly sized alternative. When you think about it, the size of the Apple iPad screen is very similar to what you’re already used to watching on FoxSoccer.tv, ESPN3 or Setanta-i or any other online platform. I haven’t had a chance to test whether games will work on an iPad on those platforms yet, but even if they don’t, I’m sure they will eventually which will make the iPad the perfect device to take on the road with you when you watch games while you’re on the go.
  3. Apps and more apps. One of the secrets to the success of the Apple iPhone has been the tremendous number of quality apps available which have made the iPhone even better than it already is — such as iFooty World, EPL Live, Sky Sports Sports Centre, Soccer Manager, Real Soccer 2009 and others. But with the iPad, there’s the potential that developers will create even better iPad apps that will take advantage of the enhanced graphics, audio and processing power that the iPad is capable of.
  4. Kindle killer. I own a Kindle and I love my Kindle, but the one thing I don’t like about it is that it has no backlight so I can read books in bed, which is usually the only opportunity I get to read. While the iPad may not be a better reading device, it does have the advantage of a backlit screen to allow me to read Soccernomics, The Ball Is Round or other classic soccer books. And with the Apple iPad’s iBook feature, where it shows your virtual book shelf, the number of printed soccer books that people will buy in the future will definitely decline as electronic versions become more popular.
  5. Online magazines. There’s no doubt that print magazines and newspapers are dying a slow death. But with the Kindle, it gives savvy media companies an opportunity to marry great content with video, audio and advertising to create an online soccer magazine that would be perfect for iPad owners. Imagine Four Four Two or When Saturday Comes in a totally different format.

The Apple iPad enables soccer leagues and clubs to embrace a cutting edge technology, something which is very intimate and easy to use — especially with the multi-touch functionality — and to get it into the hands of soccer fans around the world. It would be, without a doubt, a lot more of an intimate experience and an opportunity for the league or club to form a tighter relationship with the fan. It would take a league or club that truly understands technology and who is able to see the potential that this technology has to make it come true. Let’s hope there are some smart people out there that are already thinking about it.

I envision the Apple iPad as a device that would stay in your home and would enhance your soccer viewing and listening experience on nights and weekends. During the days and when you’re on the road, your mobile phone would be the preferred device. And for those times where you needed to do some “heavy lifting” — running several applications at once, working on a spreadsheet, writing a research paper, etc, your laptop or desktop computer may be more useful.

What are your initial impressions of the Apple iPad and are there particular ways it can be used in relation to soccer that I may have neglected to mention? Share your insight and opinions in the comments section below.

23 thoughts on “5 Ways the Apple iPad Can Revolutionize Soccer”

  1. real lack of decent footie iPad apps. Granted its still young… but the upsized iphone apps sorta suck. The lack of flash, and HTML5 based video isn’t being pushed for streaming yet..

    There is one clear winner in the iPad mania, Apple. They will get a cut of every app, video, song, book sold for the ipad…

    Its a great little device, I enjoy it on my hour long train ride in with a mifi card..

  2. Great article Gaffer.

    Beyond the value listed in this post, another big area of opportunity is to give coaches / involved parents a new tool to help their kids train and get better at the sport they love.

    Imagine being able to bring an iPad to the touchline so that – in real time – players can see plays develop, learn new strategies for success and better understand their opponents’ approach to that day’s competition.

    A company doing this well at the moment is Drillboard – http://www.soccercoachcentral.com – can definitely see this company succeeding with the iPad (and beyond). My kids already love it.


    1. Scott, that’s a fantastic point and an excellent example of how an Apple iPad would be perfect in that scenario. A mobile phone would be too small. A laptop computer would be too cumbersome and awkward to hold. But an iPad would be ideal.

      The Gaffer

  3. “When you think about it, the size of the Apple iPad screen is very similar to what you’re already used to watching on FoxSoccer.tv, ESPN3 or Setanta-i or any other online platform.”

    There may be lots of reasons to love the iPad, but this isn’t one of them. I watch FS.tv full screen on a 37″ HDTV (as I did with Setanta-i).

    1. Ovalball, in that case, the iPad wouldn’t work for you. I usually watch FoxSoccer.tv on a laptop, so for me the Apple iPad would be the perfect experience to watch it. That’s if it works on an Apple iPad. Anyone tried it?

      The Gaffer

      1. You can’t yet stream off the major sites as of yet. The stream needs to be HTML5 for it to work. Espn 3/360 is flash. and is FS.tv. There are some apps that allow illegal streams to work via uStream, but you have to dig out the show number. Not as easy as going to a streaming site and clicking.

        Apple has proclaimed that flash is a dying piece of the net, and html5 and h264 will be the standard in the years to come, so don’t wait for flash on any mobile apple product.

  4. Handheld Football Manager 2010 came out just two days ago in the app store. It’s $9.99. This game would be pretty rad on ipad unless you already have tiny fingers.

  5. Gaffer – You’re drinking the kool-aid my friend! Apple’s marketing is genious and you clearly have never heard of a netbook! It’s like you’re diggin for website hits – to make money off advertisements and grow your site by including the magic word “ipad”.

    1) Have you ever tried gaming with a touchscreen device? touch-controls and no buttons makes for a poor experience. I’d much rather play a free flash game on my netbook than pay $10 for a soccer App. Exactly when would you play these games? at home? xbox 360 thank you. Travelling? perhaps, but it’s a bit of a stretch to be gesticulating on the bus with a massive screen in your hands – I’ll take my phone, thanks.

    2) Watching matches? it’s a closed system Gaffer – they’ll lock out sopcast and any other streaming software for as long as they can – and those easy-to find links to embedded streaming media players are all…. FLASH! Did i mention windows 7 on a netbook supports flash, sopcast, ect AND it’s cheaper? and the “apps” are free? Lets not say it’s an awesome device for doing something that you have never tried, and something which Apple’s dead set against allowing (flash – ie justin.tv)

    3) Meh – Apps – you pay for em – they stack up and soon enough you’ve spent $300 on apps for a closed system that will never let you move on without taking more money from you (see iPhone OS 4.0 upgrade options) They’ve got you by the balls and you keep running happily along with em.

    4) Had to get a plug in for the sponsors yah? ah yes – ebooks – enjoy the eye strain from a backlit screen. thats the WHOLE POINT of e-ink – to reduce strain by removing lights shining in your eyes. Maybe get a book-light for reading in bed? (or the upcoming Notion Ink Adam)

    5) Dont read em much – but how is the Kindle bringing video?

    Previously the iPhone post, and now this – predictable i guess, but you’ve obviously never used a good $300 netbook.
    IMO i’ll take a netbook with flash, sopcast and other p2p streaming options for my soccer than the one-trick pony that’s tied to iTunes as the only option for synching/ moving files. Did I mention that i plug my netbook into my TV to watch matches that I stream?

    the RDF of mr Jobs most certainly has you in its grasp…
    how about a “best windows programs for following soccer” article next week? nah – wont happen…

    1. Phenoum,

      “1) Have you ever tried gaming with a touchscreen device?” — Yes, I have and I loved it.

      “2) Watching matches? it’s a closed system Gaffer” — It is right now, but my hope is that some smart EPL Internet-rights owners will make the games available on an iPad in the near future.

      “3) Meh – Apps” — I love apps. 175,000 strong on the AppStore. Could all of those folks be wrong?

      “4) Had to get a plug in for the sponsors yah?” — Amazon is not a sponsor of this site.

      “5) Dont read em much – but how is the Kindle bringing video?” — The Kindle doesn’t currently bring video.

      “how about a “best windows programs for following soccer” article next week? nah – wont happen…” — I don’t own a Windows machine, so I’m not going to write an article about something I’m not experienced with. If any other EPL Talk blogger wants to write it, or if you want to write it, just let me know at thegaffer[at]epltalk[dot]com

      Phenoum, I have nothing against netbooks or Windows or PCs.

      The Gaffer

  6. re: 5) – was nudging you about the typo :)

    And yes – I may be a slight bit anti-Apple (you already noticed?) but more than anything I just get irked by those who think it’s the messiah’s second coming. There are so many more better options out there, but everyone flocks to apple like sheep. As far as touchscreen gaming – I own 3-4 of them for my Palm Pre and dont like the touch d-pad at all. I’d much rather have a peripheral game pad or keyboard with buttons. As such – Apple will always lock out a third party gamepad option, while any other system welcomes them with open arms. If Apple doesnt get a cut of the profits – they’ll lock you out – and that’s straight up communism. it’s like Flash on their iphone/iPad – they dont support flash, and never will, because there’s millions of flash games out there that are free to play, and Apple cant get their 30% cut like they do in the app store. It’s self-centered and they’re starting to piss a lot of ppl off with their monopolistic actions.


    1. I agree. Even the Apple fanboys are getting upset. I like their products and I love the multi-touch which to me marks a new era of computing. Apples and iPads are not for everyone, but I appreciate you telling us about the other side of the argument.

      The Gaffer

  7. Watching matches on it in a smooth, quick way is the #1 key

    But I doubt many networks would allow that, ESPECIALLY AT&T

    You would need Wifi and I think they should try to allow it on 3G where people could watch it at work on the go

  8. Makes me laugh when people say they cant read there kindle without a back light..
    you don’t need one, Kindle was designed to act like a book. how many people read books in the dark they have a light on the night stand : Turn it on and your fine
    Reading a glowing Ipad in a totally dark room has to be bad for the eyes

    Also touch screens do not work for fast games.. you can not move with a touch screen X-pad fast enough your fingers stick to the screen I have tried and it just does not work..

    1. Tony, I don’t have a light on my night stand and the book light I’ve used doesn’t work that well on my Kindle. I end up reading most of my books at night via the Kindle app on my Apple iPhone. Not the best for my eyes, I know. But an Apple iPad lit up, with the brightness turned down so it wasn’t so glowing would be much better for me than a Kindle with a book light attached.

      The Gaffer

  9. for one second, i thought managers would start replacing portable white boards or pen & paper with iPad to draw formations and tactics, or 4th official would start using iPad as electronic display…

    actually, come to think of it, that could be a marketing gimmick for apple

  10. “…..4th official would start using iPad as electronic display…”

    iSub (substitutions)

    iTime (extra time)

    iSee (offside)

    iDived (subset of iSee)

    iFouled (wide-angle iSee)


  11. I honestly like your ideas.

    FM2010 could be fantastic on iPad — if loading times were reasonable, which I fear they will not be. My brand new MacBook Pro did a decent job and the iPad is nowhere near as powerful. Furthermore, FIFA or other multitouch video games at high pace on iPad (or iPod Touch for that matter) are horrendously annoying. Move your finger too far, relax your finger, change position of device, etc… are all tiny things that make it nearly impossible to play FIFA like you would on a PS3 or other console/PC.

    Being able to watch streaming football (in decent quality or better) on an iPad would be REVOLUTIONARY! Imaging traveling by train or car and sitting on your 3/4 G network watching United win it in overtime!!! No laptop or shoddy netbook can do that. However, you will need two things to happen:
    1. Apple needs to include Flash or find a way to convert flash-driven sites and streams to HTML5 video — highly unlikely. Or, footy sites need to switch their content to HTML5. Again, highly unlikely.
    2. Apple will give access for apps from premierleague.com or foxsoccer.tv or espn360.com that allow streaming video — much as the youtube app. This is the most likely scenario, but will not allow iPad users to access the free streams that we generally use — of course, the iPad crowd is (or Apple users are) not known for doing things the cheap way 😉

    1. Well I have the Palm Pre and get free 3G tethering with it – so yeah – I can already do this with my “shoddy” netbook (and do on road trips when im not driving). Sopcast and VLC make a great pair. My free tethering app on my phone gives 3G over wifi to my netbook, and voila – welcome to the revolution. It started yesterday :)

      Oh, and netbooks with 3G access card built in have been available for 6+ months already. But the service is extra (as is the iPad’s) and the iPad limits you to 5GB if im not mistaken (AT&T)

  12. When I said there are huge opportunities for clubs and leagues to embrace the iPad and similar technology, little did I know that the Womens Professional Soccer league (WPS) would announce that they’ll show one of their games live via an iPhone app this weekend. Learn more at http://goal.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/16/is-the-w-p-s-the-ileague/

    According to The New York Times, “W.P.S. has used an all-out social networking and Internet plan to present the league to its most desirable audience — young people who live much of their lives on the Web and expect to be addressed on their terms.” Smart, smart, smart.

    The Gaffer

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