FIFA has announced that semi-automated offside technology will be used at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar beginning on November 21, providing a support tool for video match officials and on-field officials to help them make faster, more accurate, and reproducible offside decisions on the world’s biggest stage.
Following the successful use of VAR technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated in The Vision 2020-23 that FIFA would aim to harness the full potential of technology in football and improve VAR. FIFA has been on the bleeding edge of technology in the game over the last three years.
FIFA has spent the previous few years working with adidas and numerous partners, including the Working Group for Innovation Excellence and technology providers, to improve the VAR system, including the deployment of semi-automated offside technology.
The new technology employs 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted beneath the stadium’s roof to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player 50 times per second, calculating their precise position on the field. The 29 data points obtained cover all limbs and extremities that are crucial for making offside calls.
Al Rihla, adidas’ official match ball for Qatar 2022, will include an inertial measuring unit (IMU) sensor, which will aid in the detection of tight offside events. This sensor, located in the center of the ball, transmits ball data to the video operating room 500 times per second, allowing for extremely accurate detection of the kick spot.
By combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a team-mate. Before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials validate the proposed decision by manually checking the automatically selected kick point and the automatically created offside line, which is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. This process happens within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.
After the decision has been confirmed by the video match officials and the referee on the pitch, the exact same positional data points that were used to make the decision are then generated into a 3D animation that perfectly details the position of the players’ limbs at the moment the ball was played. This 3D animation, which will always show the best possible perspectives for an offside situation, will then be shown on the giant screens in the stadium and will also be made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way.
“At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, FIFA took the brave step to use VAR technology on the world’s 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.” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
All specifics on the semi-automated offside technology setup and linked ball technology will be given to the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying teams at the Team Workshop in Doha on July 4 and 5, and subsequently shared with the public.
You can watch the animation of the feature in action here.