Fifa validated on Friday the use during the 2022 World Cup of “semi-automatic offside”, a tool intended to speed up and make refereeing decisions more reliable, after having introduced video assistance (VAR) during the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
This additional step, tested during the Arab Cup at the end of 2021 and then during the Club World Cup, makes it possible to establish the position of the players and the ball at any time, facilitating the detection of offsides without however replacing the judgment of the referees.
During the Qatari tournament (November 21 to December 18), the “semi-automated offside technology” (SAOT) will use twelve cameras placed under the roof of the stadium, and will monitor “up to 29 data points” per player ” 50 times per second”, explains Fifa in a press release.
Placed in the center of the ball, a sensor will send data to the viewing room “500 times per second”, making it possible to determine when the ball is played much more precisely than a human eye could do.
“By combining (these) data, and using artificial intelligence”, an alert will be transmitted to the video referees “each time the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position” at the time of the pass, details the football instance.
In “a few seconds”, it will then be up to them to manually check the moment of the pass as well as the offside line, before informing the main referee, who will make the final decision.
The validation of Kylian Mbappé’s controversial goal in October 2021, during France’s victory over Spain in the Nations League final (2-1), had thus illustrated the impossibility of fully automating offsides : once the position of the players has been taken into account, it remains to be assessed whether an opponent was able to intentionally put the ball back into play.
In order to allow the public to better understand the refereeing decisions, 3D animations would then be broadcast on the screens of the stadium, specifies Fifa.