Automated offsides considered for 2022 World Cup

Offsides have been a contentious topic for many years and now it seems that new technology will be trialled at the 2022 World Cup.

Pierluigi Collina, FIFA’s chief refereeing officer and a former referee himself, has explained the plans behind semi-automated offsides, which will use between 10 and 12 cameras to aid referees and linesmen in making offside decisions.

“VAR has had a very positive impact in football and the number of major mistakes is reduced, but there are areas where it can be improved and offside is one of them,” Collina told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We are aware the process to check offsides can take longer, especially when it is very tight. We are also aware that the positioning of the lines may not be 100 percent accurate.”

“For this reason, FIFA are developing a technology which could offer faster and more accurate answers. This is known as semi-automated offside.”

Collina was also very clear that the role of a referee will not be made redundant, despite the advancement of this new technology.

“For offside the decision is taken after analysing the position of players, but also their involvement in play. Technology can draw a line, but the assessment remains in the referee’s hands. This remains crucial,” he stated.

How will the technology work?
Johannes Holzmuller, FIFA’s football technology and innovation director, has been a key driver for this new introduction to modern football.

Holzmuller has since explained how semi-automated offsides will work:

“It is based on limb-tracking technology,” Holzmuller began.
“We install 10 to 12 cameras inside the stadium underneath the roof. These cameras are following the players and tracking up to 29 data points at 50 times per second, and this data is then almost in real time processed and calculated by the software, by Artificial Intelligence, and this is sent automatically to the VAR and the replay operator.”

The biggest trial for this new technology was at the Arab Cup after plans for tests in England, Spain and Germany were unable to occur due to the pandemic in 2020.

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