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REPORT: FIFA Step Up VAR Offside Technology

FIFA are set to work towards trials of Artificial Intelligence-driven semi-automated VAR offside technology, reports Dale Johnson at ESPN.

The technology would provide quicker and more accurate decisions for minor offside calls, resulting in fewer goals being incorrectly disallowed.

FIFA Step Up VAR Offside Technology

Ready for 2022 World Cup

FIFA are hoping to move into the next development stage from next year. According to the report, three technology providers are hoping to provide the governing body with the equipment which is due to be used for the first time at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The technology is set to provide the correct frame from which the offside call has been made. From there, limb-tracking and automated ball detection will determine whether or not the player in question is, by the letter of the law, offside or not.

In addition to limb-tracking and automated ball detection, something which was trialled during the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, the technology involved would in life tracking data from sensor technology and video data from camera systems, while a player’s skeleton will be modelled to be precise to the tip of a player’s boot.

VAR Decisions Taking Too Much Time

In some cases, reaching a decision after consulting with VAR has taken over four minutes. The new technology would “provide the VAR with additional and more accurate information to assist the decision-making process of the referee and to make the review process as efficient as possible.”

Although the decision would still be made by VAR, the technology would provide more accurate pictures for the officials to make the correct conclusion.

Previous Errors

VAR has been a major cause of controversy across the world, particularly in the Premier League. Before the international break, Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford was adjudged to be offside even though his feet were behind the last defender. The decision was made as his hand, which was pointing towards where he wanted the ball to be played, was offside.

VAR was brought in to eliminate refereeing errors which were deemed to be ‘clear and obvious’. But, many decisions that have come under scrutiny are still a matter of opinion, question further the role of VAR.

“The goal is to develop a supportive tool similar to goal-line technology: Not designed to make the decision but to provide evidence instantly to the referees,” Johannes Holzmuller, FIFA’s director of football technology & innovation, said.

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