FIFA have announced a plan to use semi-automated offside technology at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA describe it as a ‘support tool’ that will help referees and assistants make ‘faster, more accurate and more reproducible offside decisions’.
The world governing body explained: “The new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch. The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls.”
A sensor inside the match ball and the combination of limb and ball tracking data, with the help of artificial intelligence, will send an automated offside alert to the officials in the video room whenever the ball is received by an attacking player in an offside position.
The video officials will manually check the decision before informing the on-field referee. The whole process is supposed to only last a few seconds.
Once every decision is confirmed, 3D animations will be shown on giant screens in the stadium and will be available to all broadcast partners so that all fans, whether at the game or watching from home, will be able to see why the offside decision was made.
The system has already been tested at FIFA tournaments – including the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup – and further testing will be done in the months before the World Cup begins in November.
“VAR has already had a very positive impact on football and we can see that the number of major mistakes has already been dramatically reduced,” said FIFA referee chief Pierluigi Collina.
“We expect that semi-automated offside technology can take us a step further. We are aware that sometimes the process to check a possible offside takes too long, especially when the offside incident is very tight. This is where semi-automated offside technology comes in – to offer faster and more accurate decisions.”