Call for Papers: Machine Learning in Soccer

Soccer, also known as football in Europe and other regions, is the most popular sport worldwide and a multi-billion-dollar industry. Advanced methods from machine learning and AI are increasingly being employed for data analysis and modeling at both the club level and the level of national teams to improve performance, equipment, marketing, scouting, etc. The sports betting industry is also relying on advanced modeling and analysis techniques for odds setting. At least since the late 1960s, forecasting the outcomes of soccer matches has been the subject of active research. This special issue focuses on the latest developments and cutting-edge machine learning methods for soccer. As part of this special issue, we will organize an international machine learning competition, the 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge, and invite the machine learning community to predict the outcomes of a set of soccer matches from various national soccer leagues worldwide. Participants may use any publicly available data set to train their machine learning models or the training set provided by the special issue organizers. 

This special issue of the Machine Learning journal solicits high-quality research papers on machine learning for all aspects of soccer, including (but not limited to) topics such as:

  • Predicting the outcomes of future soccer matches as part of the 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge (see details below)
  • Predicting the outcome of individual soccer matches, entire competitions and tournaments;
  • Modeling and analyzing the performance of individual soccer players, entire teams, and team elements;
  • Aiding the design, planning, evaluation, and selection of competitive soccer strategies, tactics, and teams;
  • Developing and improving the performance of soccer players and teams;
  • Evaluating and profiling young talented soccer players (i.e., scouting);
  • Improving the development of young soccer players and integration of new players;
  • Analyzing complex data (video, sensors, texts, etc.) from soccer players and matches;
  • Designing soccer training programs that help avoid injuries and improve the recovery of injured players.

To submit to this issue, authors have to make a journal submission to the Springer Machine Learning journal ( and select the type of submission to “S.I.: Machine Learning in Soccer” special issue. The papers should be formatted in the Springer journal style (svjour3, small condensed).

The 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge

The 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge is an international machine learning competition that invites the machine learning community to predict the outcomes of a set of soccer matches from leagues worldwide played at the beginning of April 2023. Participants of this Challenge are requested to submit their predictions by the strict deadline of 13 April 2023 at 23:59 CET. At the time of prediction, nobody knows the outcome of the matches in the prediction set, which sets this Challenge apart from most other machine learning competitions. 

Participants of the Challenge are requested to predict the outcome several hundred league soccer matches in terms of the exact score as well as in terms of the probabilities of home win, draw, away win. Participants may use any publicly available data set to train their machine learning models, or a data set provided by the special issue organizers. The latter contains basic match data from about 250,000 league soccer matches in over 30 countries. The important dates and rules of the competition are announced on the challenge website at

The 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge is organized as part of the special issue "Machine Learning in Soccer" of the Machine Learning journal. Selected submissions to the Challenge will be invited as full research articles for this special issue.

Key Dates

Schedule for 2023 Soccer Prediction Challenge 
Training set available: 12.12.2022
Prediction Set and updated Training Set available: 31.01.2023
Final updated Training Set and updates (if any) of Prediction Set available: 04.04.2023
Strict deadline for submitting predictions: 13.04.2023 (23:59 CET)
Announcement of leader board: 30.04.2023

Schedule for the Special Issue
Submission deadline for articles to special issue: 30.09.2023
Notification of results from first-round review: 02.01.2024
Submission deadline for revised articles: 01.04.2024
Notification of results from second-round review: 01.06.2024
Deadline for camera-ready articles: 01.08.2024

Guest editors

Dr. Daniel Berrar (School of Mathematics & Statistics, The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK)

Dr. Philippe Lopes (Sport and Exercise Science Department, University Evry Paris Saclay, France)

Dr. Jesse Davis (Department of Computer Science, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)

Dr. Werner Dubitzky (Freelance Data Scientist, Meitingen, Germany)