At the World Cup in Qatar this winter, FIFA will use Artificial Intelligence to track players’ bodies to make offside calls.

FIFA, the international governing body of the football association, has revealed that semi-automated offside equipment will be used at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this year. According to FIFA, the technology will reduce the average time needed to make an offsides judgment from 70 seconds to approximately 20 to 25 seconds.

The semi-automatic system comprises 12 monitoring camera systems positioned beneath stadium roofs. The ball’s location is tracked 50 times per second, while optical monitoring information examines 29 data spots on each player, including their limbs and extremities.
A sensor within the World Cup ball sends information to the video command center 500 times per second.

This system uses artificial intelligence to track each player’s legs and the exact “kick point” in real-time. The software will integrate this information when footballers commit offside offenses to create warnings automatically. Authorities in a nearby command center get notifications, confirm the choice, and instruct referees on the field on what call to make.

This procedure will decide offside judgments more quickly and precisely, as per FIFA. To “inform all fans as clearly as possible” about why the decision is made, the data produced by the sensors and the football will also be used to develop automatic animations that may be displayed on screens in the stadium and during TV broadcasts.

It is the most recent demonstration of how sports use automated technology to assist referees in making decisions. At the 2018 World Cup, FIFA first adopted VAR, or the Video Assistant Referee, which enables referees to examine calls using screens on the sidelines.

According to Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referee Committee, the new method will enable officials to make “faster and more precise choices.” 

“I’ve read a lot regarding robot referees.” I know this makes awesome headlines occasionally, but that’s not the situation,” Collina remarked. The choice made on the playing field is still the responsibility of the officials and assistant referees.

The President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino, said, “This technology is the result of three years of dedicated study and development to give the best for institutions, participants, and fans.” FIFA is pleased with this development as we anticipate the FIFA World Cup 2022 bringing the advantages of semi-automatic offside technology to the world.”

The semi-automated offside system was first presented to FIFA in 2019. It was tested during the Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year and the Arab Cup in Qatar in 2021. At Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, testing was also conducted.

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