FIFA will bring video assistant referees back to the World Cup in 2022, with VAR to be used in Qatar. The tournament will also see the debut of semi-automatic offside technology.
The VAR system first appeared at the 2018 World Cup when France won their second title in Russia. FIFA president Gianni Infantino deemed its launch a success and has worked with a range of partners to further enhance the technology as part of Vision 2020-23.
As part of the improvements introduced by FIFA to VAR ahead of the World Cup in Qatar, including the use of a semi-automatic offside system. FIFA announced in July that the technology would debut at tournaments in November and December of this year.
- What is VAR?
VAR continues to be used at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after being introduced in Russia four years ago. Infantino declared the technology the end of offside goals in 2018, and VAR officials used it to review more than 440 incidents in the 62 matches leading up to the final in Moscow.
“The word is progress, it’s better than in the past,” Infantino said in 2018, cited via Business Standard. “VAR is not changing soccer, VAR is cleaning soccer, making it more honest, more transparent and helping referees make the right decisions.”
France was the first country to benefit from the use of VAR at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Referee Andres Cunha awarded a penalty to Les Bleus in the 58th minute in their first Group C match against Australia. France also won a penalty against Croatia in the final through VAR.
Infantino also said that the referee’s VAR accuracy rate rose from 95 percent to 99.2 percent at the 2018 World Cup. Any major European league that hadn’t used the technology before its success in Russia will roll it out. Some leagues are using VAR ahead of 2018.
The Bundesliga and Serie A already introduced VAR technology in the 2017/18 season. La Liga followed after the World Cup in Russia, and the Spanish top flight started using VAR in the 2018/19 season. the English Premier League will not use VAR technology until the 2019/20 season.
- How will semi-automatic offside technology work?
FIFA’s use of VAR at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be different from the Premier League’s use with the addition of a semi-automatic offside system. The new element uses 12 dedicated cameras that will track the ball and all players to calculate their exact position on the pitch.
Each camera, installed under the roof of the stadium, will receive 50 data points per second. They focus on 29 data points, including every limb of every player and the limbs needed for offside. The match ball will also provide a key element.
Adidas has created Al Rihla as the official match ball for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The ball will help officials make strict offside decisions because it has an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor at its core. the IMU provides data to the VAR control room 500 times per second.
By combining artificial intelligence with limb and ball tracking technology, the system will automatically alert VAR officials of offsides. The notification will be sent the moment a player receives possession of the ball and that player is in an offside position at the time of the initial kick.
The VAR will then review the offside call using the automatically selected point of kick and then notify the referee on the field. If confirmed, the decision will be generated as a 3D animation from the clearest angle, which shows the position of any player at the time of the ball.
- Will fans be able to see the results of the semi-automatic offside technology?
VAR officials will show the offside animation in the stadium and make it available to each broadcast partner. FIFA expects the semi-automatic offside process to last a few seconds to provide faster, more accurate decisions. It has already tested the process at events.
FIFA has already tested semi-automatic offside technology at the 2021 Arab Cup and 2021 Club World Cup. The MIT Sports Lab, TRACK at the University of Victoria and ETH Zurich analyzed and validated the data FIFA collected in its online and offline technology trials.
Infantino sees the use of a semi-automatic offside system at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as an evolution of VAR. The FIFA president further sees it as the clearest example of what governing bodies are doing to advance the use of technology in soccer.
He told FIFA’s website in July: “At the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA took a brave step to use VAR technology on the world’s biggest stage, which proved to be an undisputed success. The semi-automatic offside technology is an evolution of the VAR system already in place around the world.
“This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the best possible service to teams, players and fans heading to Qatar later this year and FIFA is proud of this work as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automatic offside technology at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“FIFA is committed to using technology to improve the game at all levels of soccer and the use of semi-automatic offside technology at the 2022 FIFA World Cup is the clearest evidence of this.”
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