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Semi-Automated Offside… A New Technology Launched in Qatar’s World Cup

Doha, Qatar | QNA | FIFA has introduced a new offside technology, set to help referees make offside decisions faster and more accurately.

Preparations for the World Cup in Qatar extended to include the introduction of new footballing technologies that will help fans get the most out of the sport they love.

The World Cup in Qatar is set to introduce a semi-automated offside technology that will allow play to keep moving thanks to informing referees quickly whether a player was offside.

The technology was tested in the FIFA Arab Cup, Club World Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup. UEFA also agreed to use it during the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. It is considered semi-automated because the final decision will still be that of the VAR referee, unlike with goal-line technology which informs the referee whether a ball fully crossed.

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. The official match ball will also provide a further vital element for the detection of tight offside incidents as an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor will be placed inside the ball. This sensor, positioned in the center of the ball, sends ball data to the video operation room 500 times per second, allowing a very precise detection of the kick point. It will also alert the VAR referee every time there is an offside.

Hawk-Eye, based in the United Kingdom, is the company behind the technology. It trialed the technology in England last season.

After the referee makes the final decision, the system will create a 3D simulation that shows the players position when the ball was played.

The simulation will then be displayed on giant screens at the stadium for the fans.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, FIFA took the brave step to use VAR technology on the worlds biggest stage, and it has proven to be an undisputable success. Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world. 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 FIFA World Cup 2022. FIFA is committed to harnessing technology to improve the game of football at all levels, and the use of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is the clearest possible evidence.”

For his part, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee Pierluigi Collina, said, “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. 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.”

“The testing has been a major success and we are very confident that, in Qatar, we will have a very valuable support tool to help referees and assistant referees make the best and most correct decision on the field of play. I know that someone called it robot offside; its not. The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play.”



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