FIFA ready to use tech to track 'offsides' at World Cup

FIFA is ready to introduce new technology to improve offside calls at the World Cup in Qatar this year, using a body tracking camera system.



FIFA said Friday it is ready to launch semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) that uses multiple cameras to track player movements plus a sensor in the ball — and will quickly show 3D images on stadium screens at the tournament to help fans understand the referee’s call.


It's the third World Cup in a row that sees FIFA introduce new technology to help referees.


Goal-line technology was ready in 2014 for the tournament in Brazil after a notorious refereeing error in 2010. In 2018, video review to help referees judge game-changing incidents was rolled out in Russia.


The new offside system promises faster and more accurate decisions than are currently made with the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, even though the 2018 World Cup avoided major mistakes on offside calls.


The high tech stadium in Qatar will have 12 cameras beneath the roof synchronized to track 29 data points on each player’s body 50 times per second. Data is processed with artificial intelligence to create a 3D offside line that is alerted to the team of VAR officials.


A sensor in the match ball tracks its acceleration and gives a more precise “kick point” -- when the decisive pass is played – to align with the offside line data, FIFA innovation director Johannes Holzmüller said in an online briefing.


Ensuring soccer’s biggest event is a showcase for technological progress — and avoids obvious errors that live on in World Cup lore — has been a long-time FIFA goalllllll.