FIFA will use AI technology fo offside detection at Qatar World Cup

The innovative method used by FIFA to detect offsides in the World Cup

The 2022 FIFA Wolrd Cup in Qatar will start November 21st, with the final set to take place on December 18th. FIFA will use state-of-the-art technology and artificial intelligence to detect offside in this edition of the World Cup, aiming to “make faster, more accurate and reliable decisions” in the most critical football competition in the world.

The ball will have an inertial measurement unit (IMU) inside it, which will send data to the VAR video room, making it possible to detect the exact moment when the ball is hit.

How will artificial technology work?

In addition to the new technological improvement, twelve cameras are installed under the roof of each stadium to capture every ball movement, collecting up to 29 data points for each player 50 times per second.

With the tracking of data from the extremities of the players and the ball and through artificial intelligence, this new technology provides an automatic warning to the VAR room whenever an attacker in an offside position receives a ball.

The video referee team will manually check the exact moment of the shot provided by the data to corroborate the proposal before reporting it to the main referee. The offside line is also created automatically and based on the positions of the player’s extremities that the system calculated.
“To make the implementation more affordable, FIFA is developing a so-called lighter VAR, which works with fewer TV cameras at a lower cost and even somewhat lighter and more affordable for the competitions covered,” he said. Pierluigi Collina, president of the FIFA Referees Committee.

“We are working on a more consistent VAR regarding the intervention line. In addition, we are aware that sometimes the duration of a reviewer’s controls is too long. We know that when analyzing a complex play.”

“Those more developed tools need time to find the exact stopping point to define the position of the players,” he noted.

Johannes Holzmüller, director of the Football Technological Innovation Branch, stated that “the new systems will provide referee teams with real-time video warnings using artificial intelligence.”

“We call it ‘semi-automated offside detection technology’ because the video refereeing teams will continue to monitor the results and need to corroborate the decision. The system constantly tracks and alerts once a player in an offside position receives the ball.” he said.

After the referee has confirmed the offside decision, a replay animation will be created and shown in the stadium and on television to improve communication with fans.

FIFA was going to start testing this in 2020

FIFA’s idea was to start in 2020 with the first tests, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they had to be postponed until early 2021. It was tested in some FIFA tournaments, such as the Africa Cup and the World Cup of clubs.

During the matches of these tournaments, the new technology helped the video refereeing teams make more accurate and reliable decisions quickly.

“We will be faster, and we will be more precise. These are the goals of semi-automatic offside technology,” Collina said, for which “the more precise, the better you are.”

“We at FIFA are very proud of this work and look forward to seeing the benefits of this technology at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. FIFA is determined to harness technological advances to improve football at all levels,” concluded Gianni Infantino, FIFA President.