Semi-automated offside technology at Qatar World Cup 2022

FIFA has announced that the semi-automated offside technology will be used at 2022 World Cup Qatar. This will allow referees faster and more precise offside decisions at the biggest football gala in the world.

“At the FIFA World Cup 2018, FIFA made the bold decision to use Video Assistant Referee technology. Semi-automated offside technology “is an evolution of VAR systems which have been implemented throughout the world,” Gianni Infantino, president of world football governing body, stated, adding that SAOT will provide the best for players, teams, and fans heading to Qatar in November.

According to FIFA, the SAOT system employs 12 dedicated tracking cameras that are mounted under the stadium’s roof to track the ball. The data is then used to calculate the exact position of each player on the pitch. Meanwhile, data from the sensor in the centre of the official match ball Al Rihla sends 500 data per second to allow for precise identification of the kick point.

What is it all about?

Semi-automated offside technology can be used by the video match officials and the on-field officials to aid them in making faster, more reproducible, and more accurate offside decisions.

What is the secret to it?

This new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted under the stadium’s roof to track the ball and up to 29 data points for each player. They can be tracked 50 times per second and used to calculate their exact position on the pitch. All limbs and extremities are included in the 29 data points collected for offside calls.

Al Rihla will serve as the official Adidas match ball for Qatar 2022(TM). An inertial measurement unit sensor (IMU) will also be installed inside the ball. The sensor is located in the centre of the ball and sends data to the video operator room 500 times per minute. This allows for a precise determination of the kick point.

The new technology uses artificial intelligence to combine limb-and-ball-tracking data with artificial intelligence. It alerts the video operator room of an automatic offside alarm when an attacker receives the ball from them.

The video match officials verify the proposed decision before informing the referee. They manually check the kick point and offside line that was automatically generated based on the calculated positions for the players’ legs.

This allows for quicker and more accurate offside decisions. The same positional data points used to make decisions are generated into a 3D animation. This animation perfectly depicts the position of each player’s limbs at that moment.

The 3D animation will be displayed on the stadium’s giant screens and made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners for all to see.

What was the test?

The semi-automated offside technology setup and workflow were successfully tested at numerous events and live at FIFA tournaments such as the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 (TM) or the FIFA Club World Cup 2020(TM).

The new technology-enabled officials to make faster and more consistent offside decisions during these matches.

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