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The world’s smallest football league kicked off the season in style recently with a new piece of tech, and help from Vodafone.

The two-team football league on the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, used a well-known Video-Assistant Referee (VAR) system – with a twist.  Thanks to Vodafone’s 5G network, the first game of the season was introduced to FAR: Fan-Assistant Refereeing, a world first.

The huge capacity, faster speeds, and quick response times of Vodafone’s 5G service are a great way to bring supporters unable to attend a match closer to the action. Not only does 5G offer a richer viewing experience, but higher levels of connectivity allow customers to communicate simultaneously when network demand is at its peak.  This opens up a new range of possibilities for fans to experience and enjoy their favourite sports online.

Vodafone kicks off World's First Fan-Assisting Refereeing (FAR) 1

While many football fans across the globe enjoy being armchair referees, it’s the supporters of the Garrison Gunners and Woolpack Wanderers on the Isles of Scilly who can now officially claim that title as their own.

Showcasing the benefits of Vodafone 5G, the FAR system puts supporters right at the heart of the game. Equipped with Samsung S10 5G handsets, fans were able to review incidents just after they happened. And instead of catching up on the ref’s decisions after the game, supporters on the main island of St Mary’s were able to have their own say on several fouls, a disputed goal, and two contested penalties as the game were being played.

Following a quick online vote, fans’ decisions were relayed to Paul Charnock, the match official and former first division linesman, at pitchside. The Woolpack Wanderers won the match 4 – 3, with only minutes to spare.

Chairman of the Isles of Scilly Football League Anthony ‘Gibbo’ Gibbons said: “I have never seen the referee so happy after a game. He was empowered by the other islanders to make bold decisions – and not always in my team’s favour! Vodafone’s involvement with the league has got everyone excited.”

Vodafone UK’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Jeffery said “This was great fun for the fans, and we’re very happy to have been the first network operator to take 5G to the Isles of Scilly. Vodafone has 5G in more places than any other network, with 77 towns and cities across the UK and Europe now live. Our commitment to rolling out our network to non-urban locations is very strong, as our recent Shared Rural Network agreement with the Government and other network operators proves. I’m very proud that Vodafone is travelling those extra miles to connect rural and isolated communities.”

Following the success of the world’s first 5G-enabled Fan-Assistant Referee test on the Isles of Scilly, Vodafone will now work alongside local businesses looking to boost tourism on the islands. 5G connectivity will enable them to show high-definition videos and 3D-images of the islands’ attractions to a worldwide, online audience

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