The latest major sports organisation to adopt Riedel Communications’ Bolero S for referee communications, the Swiss Football League (SFL) recently called in production company NEP to upgrade the SFL Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.

Referee CommunicationBolero S is a failsafe intercom system built around Riedel’s Artist communications infrastructure, providing a voice-activated, Bolero-based wireless device, with remote support delivered by NEP from SFL’s Technical Operation Center in Hegnau, Switzerland. Bolero S pairs intercom technology with custom engineering and hands-on support by Riedel-qualified engineers for comms that can be applied in any sport and for any crewmembers, including officiators and coaches.

Rolled out for the SFL’s 2019/2020 season, the referee communications infrastructure developed by Riedel and NEP was successfully used for all 182 games of the Raiffeisen Super League. The system enabled reliable communications between officials, assistants on the sidelines and the SFL’s Video Operation Room (VOR) in Hegnau. With two Bolero S antennas and seven beltpacks deployed to each of the stadiums of the ten Raiffeisen Super League teams, a three-member team at the NEP Broadcast Center facility supported referees in the stadium by monitoring multiple television broadcast feeds of live game play. The video operations team then used the Bolero S system to communicate information in real time and with highest-possible audio quality to the match officials to help them make informed decisions on questionable play and decisions.

MCR Technical Operation CenterAn extensive signal transport and routing network based on Riedel’s MediorNet handled video from the stadiums to the VOR. The MediorNet installation included three MetroN core routers and 28 MicroN media distribution network devices, which operated as decentralised routers. Twelve of the MicroN devices were configured as multiviewers using the MicroN MultiViewer app. To support the Bolero S intercom, an Artist-1024 digital matrix mainframe delivered AES67-compliant communications.

‘After a detailed analysis of all 182 matches, we can state that the VAR presented a clear and obvious error in 36 cases,’ says Dani Wermelinger, Head of Elite Referee Department, SFV. ‘Without support from the video operators in Hegnau, these situations would have been wrongly assessed and in the worst case would have led to a different result. This demonstrates that the VAR has made football in Switzerland fairer and more just.’

‘The VAR project was extremely complex, with a wide range of technology, training, and process elements that had to be interlinked, and our partnership with Riedel was one key to the success of this project,’ adds Reto Häuselmann, VAR Project Manager, Swiss Football League. ‘A stable, reliable communications link with outstanding voice quality was also critical, and looking at the positive feedback we’ve gotten from our referees, Bolero S seems to have delivered on its promise.’

See also:
Sport in Absentia - The Sound of the Crowd

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