Sports · July 1, 2022

FIFA will use the new high-tech technology for offside calls at the World Cup

FIFA will introduce new technology to improve offside calls at the World Cup in Qatar this year, using a limb-sensing camera system.

FIFA said on Friday that it is poised to roll out semi-automatic offside (SAOT) technology which uses multiple cameras to track players’ movements plus a sensor in the ball and will quickly display 3D images on stadium screens during the tournament to help fans get to grips with it. understand the referee’s call.

It is the third consecutive World Cup that sees FIFA introduce new technology to help referees.

The goal line technology was ready for the 2014 tournament in Brazil after an infamous referee mistake in 2010. In 2018, the video review to help referees judge game-changing incidents was launched in Russia.

The new offside system promises faster and more accurate decisions than those currently made with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, even though the 2018 World Cup avoided major mistakes on offside calls.

Controversy has since flared up in European leagues, particularly when VAR officials draw lines across the screen on players for fringe calls. They were derided as an “underarm offside” due to the tiny margins.

“While these tools are quite accurate, this accuracy could be improved,” said Pierluigi Collina, who leads the FIFA refereeing program and worked on the 2002 World Cup final in the pre-tech era.

Each Qatar stadium will have 12 cameras under the roof synchronized to track 29 data points on each player’s body 50 times per second. The data is processed with artificial intelligence to create a 3D offside line that is alerted to the VAR team of officials.

A sensor in the match ball tracks its acceleration and provides a more accurate “kick point” – when the decisive pass is played – to align with the offside line data, FIFA Director of Innovation Johannes Holzmüller said in a statement. online briefing.

Ensuring that football’s greatest event is a showcase for technological advancement – and avoids the glaring mistakes that survive in the World Cup tradition – has been a long-standing goal of FIFA.

The shot from England’s Frank Lampard who crossed Germany’s goal line in 2010 but was not given as a goal almost immediately put an end to then-president Sepp Blatter’s opposition to providing technological aid to the referees.

Later the same day in South Africa, a clearly incorrect offside call allowed Carlos Tevez to score Argentina’s first goal in a 3-1 win over Mexico in the round of 16.

In 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to move from group stage to their first World Cup after Edin Dzeko’s early goal against Nigeria was erroneously adjudged to be offside. Nigeria went on to win 1-0.

FIFA’s push to prepare new offside technology for the World Cup has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Live in-game trials took place at the Arabian Cup in Qatar last December and the FIFA Club World Cup was played in February in the United Arab Emirates.

Within seconds of a possible offside, a specialized member of the VAR team can manually check the line created by the data for attackers and defenders and the kick point of the pass, said Holzmüller.

It is up to the senior VAR officer to notify the match referee of the correct decision via their audio link. This should take 20 to 25 seconds compared to an average of 70 seconds currently for a complex offside call.

“Sometimes the duration of review checks is way too long,” Collina said, acknowledging delays that disrupt the flow of games. “For (VAR referees) time flies, but otherwise – for the coaches, for the players, for the spectators – it’s completely different.”

The same 3D offside call animations that the VARs will use should therefore be available to broadcasters and shown on stadium screens, probably during the next game stop.

Collina is enthusiastic about the technology, less than the often used description of “robot referees”.

“I understand that sometimes this is very good for the headlines, but it doesn’t,” said the Italian official, defending the key human element of decision-making in football.

Collina also agreed that improving technology will not end football’s love of controversy and debate over key incidents.

“There will still be room for discussion,” he said.

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