FIFA confirms semi-automated offside system for Qatar World Cup
FIFA has confirmed that a semi-automated offside system will be used at this year’s football World Cup in Qatar .
The new technology utilizes a limb-tracking camera system to track player movements and a sensor in the ball.
It then quickly shows 3D images on stadium screens at the tournament to help fans understand the referee’s call.
It is the third World Cup that will see FIFA introduce new technology to help referees.
The optical tracking system was trialled at the FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi earlier this year and had also been tested at the Arab Cup in Qatar last December.
“Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of (VAR) Video Assistant Referee systems that have been implemented across the world,” the global body’s President Gianni Infantino said in a statement on Friday.
“This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year, and FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automated offside technology at the World Cup 2022,” he added.
Goal-line technology was ready for the 2014 tournament in Brazil after a notorious refereeing error in 2010. In 2018, a video review to help referees judge game-changing incidents was rolled out in Russia.
The new offside system promises faster and more accurate decisions than are currently made with the VAR system, even though the 2018 World Cup avoided significant mistakes on offside calls.
Controversy has since flared in European leagues, especially where VAR officials draw on-screen lines over players for marginal calls. They have been mocked as “armpit offsides” because of the tiny margins.
Each stadium in Qatar will have 12 cameras beneath the roof synchronised to track 29 data points on each player’s body 50 times per second. Data is processed with artificial intelligence to create a 3D offside line that is alerted to the team of VAR officials.
A sensor in the match ball tracks its acceleration and gives a more precise “kick point” – when the decisive pass is played – to align with the offside line data, FIFA innovation director Johannes Holzmüller said in an online briefing.
The shot by England’s Frank Lampard that crossed the Germany goal-line in 2010 but was not given as a goal almost immediately ended then-President Sepp Blatter’s opposition to giving referees technological aids.
Later that same day in South Africa, a clearly incorrect offside call let Carlos Tevez score Argentina’s first goal in a 3-1 win over Mexico in the round of 16.
In 2014, Bosnia and Herzegovina failed to advance from the group in its first World Cup after Edin Dzeko’s early goal against Nigeria was wrongly judged offside. Nigeria went on to win 1-0.
FIFA’s push to get the new offside technology ready for the World Cup was slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Within seconds of a possible offside, a specialist member of the VAR team can manually check the data-created line for attackers and defenders and the kick point of the pass, Holzmüller said.