Automatic VAR makes offside calls


FIFA officials on Thursday unveiled new technology that will help officials nullify and confirm offside calls at the 2022 World Cup and beyond. (REUTERS/Matthew Childs)

“Limb tracking technology” and sensors embedded in balls will help officials make crucial offside decisions at the 2022 Men’s World Cup.

FIFA, the global governing body of football, announced the innovation on Friday, calling it a “semi-automated” video review system that’s still human-operated but spits out decisions automatically in mere seconds.

The system can be used to override or confirm offside calls and non-calls in games that result in penalties or goals. Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, estimated at a media briefing that she will cut the average length of these meetings from around 70 seconds to 20-25 seconds.

The technology, which has been tested at several FIFA tournaments and failed to score a goal at this year’s Club World Cup, is based on 12 specialized cameras mounted at the top of each stadium. The cameras track 29 points on each player’s body, capturing location data on each of their limbs and extremities 50 times per second.

Meanwhile, tiny IMU sensors are being implanted in World Cup balls to transmit their inertial data 500 times per second to an external playback center via antennas in the stadium. Artificial intelligence will process the data in real time, and replay officials will relay the AI ​​interpretations to referees on the pitch.

These replay officials will review and confirm each decision. You still have to make some subjective determinations – Did an attacker disrupt the game? Did a defender try to play the ball? – while the technology tracks the ball and players in offside positions.

But instead of digitally drawing lines on body parts and using previous technology to identify the precise moment a ball was kicked, officials are automatically and almost instantly provided with “push point” and “offside line” information.

According to Collina, the system’s margin of error is similar to that of goal-line technology: “just a few millimeters”.

It was used to disallow a goal by UAE club Al-Jazira at the Club World Cup in February. Goalscorer Alameri Zayed’s left knee was just ahead of the last defender on a cross.

After decisions are made, the technology automatically generates animated 3D replays, which FIFA officials say will be shown in stadiums and on TV at the earliest opportunity. These will represent a significant improvement over the digitally drawn lines and boring messages currently used on TV broadcasts and in stadiums in most major professional leagues, FIFA believes.

Collina said the semi-automated system will be “more accurate” than the current system. Above all, however, he repeatedly emphasized the increase in speed.

“We are aware that sometimes checks and checks are definitely too long, especially when it comes to offside,” he admitted. “Accuracy and speed do not belong together. And we understand that it is difficult to wait long before making a decision.”

The new technology, developed in consultation with leading universities in several countries, including MIT, will not solve this no-offside call dilemma. Nor will it quell the criticism, often coming from fans and players alike, that the presence of video reviews, popularly referred to as “VAR,” dampens the emotions that greet each goal as it lies in wait and threatens unseen ones Find breaches and nullify seemingly good targets.

But four years after the largely successful introduction of VAR at the 2018 World Cup, FIFA officials believe the semi-automated system will improve it for all parties at this year’s tournament, which begins on November 21 in Qatar.

Some domestic leagues and the UEFA Champions League are also expected to implement the new system by 2024.

A still image of the AI-generated animations that viewers will see when the new technology makes an offside call. (REUTERS/Matthew Childs)

Source link

Leave a Comment