Fifa has announced that semi-automated technology will be used at the Qatar World Cup later this year, which is set to halve the time it takes for VAR’s offside decisions.
Semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) will see a complete overhaul of the system used to judge ‘positional’ offside decisions in the lead-up to a goal. Referees and assistants will still make on-field decisions while the referee makes the final call on SAOT decisions. The concept of rewinding TV footage will soon be a distant memory.
Each football will be fitted with a sensor at its centre, which will send data 500 times a second to determine the exact kick-point. There will also be 12 dedicated multi-tracking cameras that are "100% synchronised" 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 pitch to make SAOT decisions much easier.
For example, if a player is in an offside position, an alert will be triggered in the video assistant booth which can be relayed to the on-field referee. The SAOT has already been trialled, having been used at last year’s Arab Cup and Club World Cup, where it was estimated to have lowered wait times for offside calls from 70 to 25 seconds.
“Semi-automated offside technology is faster and more accurate and offers better communication to fans,” said Pierluigi Collina, the chair of Fifa’s referees committee. “It can create a new form of visualisation for supporters at home and in the ground. All tests have worked well and so [SAOT] is going into the Qatar World Cup 2022.”
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