Qatar World Cup to use faster and more accurate ‘semi-automatic’ offside technology

Semi-automatic offside will be used at this year’s World Cup, Fifa has announced.

The governing body confirmed the ball and limb-tracking technology would be in place at its flagship tournament in Qatar following successful testing, including when Chelsea won the Club World Cup in February.

Introduced to provide more accurate and quicker offside decisions than the current Video Assistant Referees systems, it is set to be rolled out worldwide from next year, including in the Premier League.

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.

It also features an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor in the center of the ball, which sends location data to the video operation room 500 times per second, allowing a more precise detection of the kick point.

The system allows a 3D animation of offside decisions to be shown to spectators on big screens inside stadiums and to those watching at home on television.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino said: “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 come 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.”

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the Fifa referees committee, added: “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’; it’s not. The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play.”

The semi-automated offside technology set-up and the connected ball technology will be presented to those countries to have qualified for the World Cup at a team workshop in Doha on Monday and Tuesday.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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