World Cup 2022: An Artificial Intelligence Should Decide On The Offside
The World Football Association will use artificial intelligence at the 2022 World Cup to quickly identify offside positions. In this way, FIFA wants to optimise the flow of the game. It is a semi-automated system that supports those responsible for data.
Innovative technological solutions have the potential to reduce incorrect decisions in sporting competition. The video evidence (VAR) shows that this does not always work well: As soon as human judgement is involved, errors cannot be ruled out.
At least in the case of offside, the technology could (almost) have more to report than the referees in the future.
World Cup 2022: An Artificial Intelligence Decides On The Offside
The natural intelligence of the video referees in front of the monitors fails more often than many football fans would like. Now, new technology is helping video evidence – at least (or initially?) when it comes to offside calls.
FIFA uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify even more precisely whether the tips of the players’ noses or toenails are offside. After several tests – for example, at the 2021 Club World Cup and the 2021 Arab Cup – the process will already be used at the 2022 World Cup, which begins on November 21, 2022.
This Is How Offside Technology Works
Twelve AI-supported cameras are to follow the players’ bodies at the Qatar soccer World Cup. In addition, the balls receive a sensor that transmits their position 500 times per second.
The cameras are located under the stadium roof and track 29 points on the players’ bodies. The software generates automatic warnings if an offside position is present in conjunction with the sensor. That’s the theory.
However, the AI must not decide offside at the 2022 World Cup alone. Once she creates an alert, she sends it to the control room, where VAR referees sit and review the process.
If there is a confirmation, the game masters will receive information on the field and decide accordingly.
How Can Artificial Intelligence Recognize Offside?
According to FIFA, the entire process can be completed in seconds, making it much faster and more accurate to decide offside. Practice will show whether this is realistic. Doubts are legitimate because, depending on the situation, the loop in the control room can be longer.
In addition, the game situation would have to continue, as is currently the case with VAR, to prevent the referees from deciding offside too early and interrupting the game. It is questionable whether the effort is worth it despite the time window because the check should also be carried out without warning as soon as an offside situation could arise.
The 2022 World Cup will show if AI improves offside. Because checking in the control room is the most significant time factor. Football fans know this: Sometimes, minutes pass before all digital lines are supposedly laid correctly, and all relevant angles are included.
How well the new data accelerates this process is fascinating. At least the AI offside technology at the 2022 World Cup should also generate automatic animations that show the spectators the situation on the stadium and TV screens.
World Cup 2022: No Replacement Of The Referees
According to The Verge, FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina emphasised that the new technology should only support referees and not replace them: “I know someone called it ‘robot offside’; That’s not it.”
Meanwhile, FIFA President Gianni Infantino raved about the new system: “This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to offer the best to teams, players and fans.”
FIFA is proud of the work and excited to showcase the “benefits of semi-automatic offside technology” to the world at the 2022 World Cup.
Such hymns of praise from Infantino only seem like clumsy attempts to give the controversial World Cup more shine. It doesn’t take AI, only humanity, to recognize that FIFA has put itself exceptionally far from the sidelines by awarding the World Cup to Qatar.