Stevens hosts the Second Annual New Jersey Soccer Conference to discuss the future of soccer and technology
In the lead-up to the 2026 World Cup, a diverse group of professionals gathered at Stevens Institute of Technology for the 2nd Annual New Jersey Soccer Conference to discuss the future of soccer and technology, particularly the question of data analytics and its place in sports.
The event drew interest from more than 100 guests, including Stevens’ President Nariman Farvardin, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and former president of the United States Soccer Federation Sunil Gulati. The chief financial revenue officer of NYNJ World Cup 26 Committee, former professional soccer and baseball athletes, marketing and data analytics firms, the board of commissioners of the Port Authority, as well as representatives from Major League Soccer, were also in attendance.
During the two panel discussions, diverse opinions and insights framed the opportunities and challenges of data analytics in soccer and how it can influence the sport. Philippos Mordohai, an expert in computer vision and machine learning at Stevens, provided analysis on the current state of artificial intelligence technology and what is possible to do with data now and potentially in the future.
The first panel discussed how North America can use soccer and the 2026 World Cup to build bridges to the rest of the world and encourage soccer from a young age. The panelists anticipated significant growth in soccer’s popularity in the U.S. and that the 2026 World Cup would be instrumental in transforming the soccer landscape. Panelists also emphasized the potential for catalyzing economic development through corporate partnerships and the prosperity that it would bring to the region.
"There's one game we want," Murphy said during an interview with NJ.com. "We want the last game. We want the World Cup trophy to be hoisted right here up the road at MetLife Stadium.”
The second panel emphasized the importance of leveraging the upcoming World Cup to not only promote the sport, but also to embrace technological advancement, particularly data analytics. The panel tried to answer the following questions: How will soccer walk the line between objective and subjective scouting? The conversation oscillated between the potential of data-driven scouting, the difficulties in comparing the quality of leagues and the ethical considerations of wearable technologies.
“No athlete will allow wearables,” said Pat Light, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins. “Baseball went too far with data analytics and now they are going back to the middle. So, it will be interesting to see what path soccer will take.”
The panelists, including Jens Hegeler, a former German soccer player turned data analytics entrepreneur, acknowledged a fundamental struggle between the raw, instinctive nature of the game and the precise, calculated world of data. The challenge was not just in collecting data but in understanding its context and applying it effectively to enhance the game.
As the discussion concluded, one thing became clear: The intersection of soccer, technology, and data analytics is a dynamic space, ripe with opportunities and challenges to elevate the game, empower players and enrich the experience for fans worldwide. All are areas that Stevens has capitalized on by offering the sports technologies and digital transformation dual master's programs in partnership with the Read Madrid Graduate School - Universidad Europea.
The conference, organized by Josh Murphy, a professional soccer consultant and advisor for NY/NJ Gotham FC, was hosted in partnership with Borussia Dortmund, Playfly Premier Partnerships, Choose New Jersey, Jona Fussball Group, FIFA World Cup 2026 New York New Jersey™, NY/NJ Gotham FC, SPORTFIVE and the United Soccer League.