Murciélagos, the Soccer Club That Gives Supporters the Power to Make Coaching Decisions Via the Web

During a recent trip to Mexico, I heard a story about Murciélagos FC, a team in the third tier of Mexico that gives its supporters the power to manage their team.

While the experiment in England with Ebbsfleet United eventually failed, the case study of Murciélagos FC is a different story. The club, which was founded in 2008, currently sits in tenth place among the 31 teams in Mexico’s Segunda Division Profesional. Last year, the team won the Apertura. The club is aiming to become the new model for teams south of the border.

Three years ago, the club made history by becoming the first soccer team to allow its fans to vote — in real time — to decide which three substitutions the manager should make. The team went on to win the match 1-0.

Nicknamed The Bats or The Dark Knights, the club allows fans to use a feature on its website called DT-Electronico (which translates to electronic coach) that gives supporters the power to control how the side plays, who plays, and who should be substituted. The team has a coach, but the person can’t make any decisions.

So far, the crowdsourcing solution to soccer management has been a success for Murciélagos. In 2012, the club were undefeated in both the regular season and the playoffs. The team, which plays in the city of Guamúchil in northwestern Mexico, broadcasts all of its matches live over the Internet and on television.

The way the system works is that fans log in to the DT Electronico website and then vote on key decisions such as formation and starting line-up. Then during games, fans get a chance to vote on substitutions.

Can Murciélagos show that crowdsourcing in soccer can work? We’ll have to wait and see, but so far, the wisdom of the crowd seems to be working.

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