Qatar World Cup is set to employ semi-automated offside technology

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Qatar World Cup: Fifa has announced that semi-automated, cutting-edge technology will be used to shorten the time it takes to make offside rulings.

Qatar World Cup is set to employ semi-automated offside technology
Qatar World Cup is set to employ semi-automated offside technology.

Twelve “100% synchronized” multi-tracking cameras will be mounted on the roof of each stadium to track the ball and 29 points on each player, sending data 50 times per second to calculate their precise position on the field in addition to a sensor in the middle of the ball that sends data 500 times per second to determine the precise kick-point.

Any player who enters the offside zone will cause a signal to be sent to the video assistant referee booth, where it can be passed on to the on-pitch official.

It was anticipated that the system, which was tested in the Arab Cup and Club World Cup last year, cut the time needed to make offside VAR judgements from 70 to 25 seconds.

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“We have a lot of optimism. It’s prepared,” Pierluigi Collina, head of refereeing for Fifa, said.

No robot officials in Qatar World Cup

It has been asserted that the rising use of technology has virtually rendered referees powerless to make decisions.

Collina, who officiated the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany and was named the world’s top referee for six straight seasons from 1998 to 2003, disputes this and asserts that there will still be room for discussion of judgments.

“I read about robot referees,” he said. “I understand this is very good for headlines but it is not the case.

“The match officials are still involved in the decision-making process. The semi-automated technology only gives an answer when a player is in an offside position when they play the ball. The assessment of interfering with an opponent and seeing if a handball or foul was committed remains at the discretion of the referee.

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“Our goal is to get referees taking decisions correctly on the field. If something wrong should happen, the referee may take advantage of the technology to get a better vision of what happened – but there will still be room for discussion.”

Offside: You’re either on or off

Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver of the Premier League have been chosen to join the elite group of referees who will congregate in Qatar two weeks prior to the World Cup for final instructions.

Qatar World Cup is set to employ semi-automated offside technology

Collina does not see the new offside technology any differently than the technologies used to evaluate if a ball has crossed the line.

There has been discussion about the time required to determine offsides, particularly what have been nicknamed “toenail decisions.”

In the illustrious first game of the Premier League’s Project Restart, it infamously failed when Hawk-Eye failed to detect Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland had carried the ball into his own goal. That doesn’t bother Collina, in his opinion.

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“Technology works most of the time,” he said. “That is one wrong decision I remember in thousands of correct ones.

“Goalline technology offers very high accuracy. If the ball crosses or doesn’t cross the line by a few millimetres everyone is happy. It is the same with semi-automated technology. If the player is on or offside, the technology should be praised then as well.

“We cannot get it down to four or five seconds for a decision. That would be the wrong expectation. But we have come down from 70 seconds to 20 or 25. That is important. This system will be faster and more accurate.”

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