FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar is set to have a new addition in gameplay with the use of semi-automated offside technology for the first time in a World Cup.
The biggest tournament in International football has been the stage for technological innovations over the years, with the introduction of the goal-line technology in Brazil (2014) and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Russia (2018).
With the introduction of added edge to offside calls with the help of technology, football is Qatar may well become more objective to refereeing decisions, if not more accurate.
“Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“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,” he added.
The workflow of semi-automated offside technology and the connected ball technology has been successfully trialled at numerous test events and live at FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021.
During these matches, the new technology was able to support the video match officials by helping them to make more accurate and more reproducible offside decisions in a shorter period of time.
The data collected during online and offline tests has been analysed and validated by the MIT Sports Lab, with TRACK at Victoria University scientifically validating the limb-tracking technology. Further insights into the technological capabilities of such multi-camera tracking systems are being provided by a research team at ETH Zurich.
More tests will be conducted in the coming months to fine-tune the system before a global standard is implemented to ensure that the new technology can be used in the world of football.
“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,” said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee and a six-time winner of the best referee in the world award.
“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,” he added.
All details on the semi-automated offside technology set-up and the connected ball technology will be presented to the teams that have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the Team Workshop in Doha on 4 and 5 July and then shared with the public.