On July 1, 2022, FIFA introduced the semi-automated offside technology as part of the preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar. The innovative semi-automated tool will support the referees during football games. As a result of that, human errors will reduce, and decisions will be taken faster.
What is an offside?
For those not familiar with the rules of the game, here’s a brief explanation of what offside is. According to TheFA.com, a player is in a position of offside if “any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half and any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.”
The offside is one of the most critical parts of the game. The referees are often criticized due to controversial decisions taken in favor of certain clubs. The truth is that they have very limited time to react, and sometimes mistakes happen. Hence, the semi-automated technology which will not only provide a more accurate decision but also eliminate any doubts in the field.
How will it work?
There will be 12 dedicated cameras installed under the roof of the stadiums to track the ball and up to 29 data points for every player. The algorithm will calculate their exact position 50 times per second. The data will collect, detect, and analyze all relevant body parts of the players that might cause an offside.
FIFA also announced that the official ball for the games during FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar would have a sensor. It will be located inside in the middle of the ball. The sensor will send data to the VAR (virtual assistant referees) room 500 times per second.
Both sensors will combine the data, and AI software will alert for offside. The referee and the public will be able to see a 3D animation of the situation after making a decision, showing the exact lines offside.
Was it officially tested before?
FIFA stated that prior tests had been performed during official tournaments such as FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021. As of now, this is the next big innovation after the implementation of VAR in 2018 during the World Cup in Russia. One of the major issues with VAR is that it takes a lot of time for the referee to review a certain situation. This time is expected to be shortened significantly with AI.
YouTube: Semi-automated offside tech to be used at World Cup 2022