Semi-automated offside to be used at World Cup after successful VAR trials
The time needed to make a decision should be reduced from 70 seconds to 25
FIFA has approved the use of Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) for VAR at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
The intended purpose is to make decisions faster and more accurate, while also providing improved visualisation for supporters. The Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based system will take the place of the VARs manually linking lines across the field to players and selecting at what point the ball has been kicked.
Supporters will be provided with a 3D animation to show the offside.
A sensor will be put in the centre of the balls, which will record data 500 times a second to detect when the ball has been kicked. Players will also be mapped in order to create an AI model of their position - in a similar way to how goal-line technology works.
Fans inside the World Cup grounds will be able to watch the decisions with a 3D animation to clearly show the offside, while it is thought that the time needed to make a VAR offside will drop from an average of 70 seconds to 25 seconds.
FIFA has trialled its new SAOT on a number of occasions in the last three years, including at the Club World Cup in Qatar in February - which proved to be a success.
— Bryan Swanson (@fifa_bryan) July 1, 2022
"When video match officials work on a very complex offside incident, for them time flies. For coaches, for players, spectators, it's completely different," said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA's referees' committee.
"Today, the tools to draw offside lines, like triangulation, need time to find the exact kick point and also the position of the players. On average some 70 seconds are needed for an offside check.
"Although these tools are quite accurate, the accuracy may be improved. FIFA has worked to develop the Semi-Automated Offside Technology, that gives the match official the possibility to make faster and more accurate offside decisions.
"In addition, we know it's very difficult to understand if a player was in an offside or onside position, because the two lines are close to each other. The Semi-Automated Offside Technology can be used to create a new visualisation of close offside incidents with a 3D animation automatically generated, using the same data.
"All the tests we have conducted worked very well, and therefore FIFA has decided to implement the use of the use of the Semi-Automated Offside Technology at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022."
Could offside decisions take longer than 25 seconds?
Any offside decision should only take longer than the average of 25 seconds if it involves a number of offside elements, or if, for example, it needs to be decided if an attacking player was interfering with play.