For decades offside has been one of the most controversial events in any soccer game: whistling them accurately is really difficult even with the help of the linesmen, and the referees have not always hit one of the plays that can most influence the outcome of the matches.
The VAR has helped to minimize the problems – although it has not prevented other controversies – but FIFA wants to go further and make use of an artificial intelligence system to whistle offside. The idea will be put to the test at the Arab Cup, and if successful, it could be implemented in the Qatar World Cup in 2022.
A system that will work in conjunction with the VAR
The tests will consist of an artificial intelligence system that will be installed in six stadiums where the Arab Cup will be held. The operation is closely linked to the VAR (Video Assistant Referee), which for some time has become an important help for referees in the world of professional football.
The artificial intelligence system will send VAR a message instantly when a player is offside, but it will be the referee who decides whether or not that player was intervening in the play.
The technology had already been launched in the preliminary phase by several companies that were working on something like this. Teams like Manchester City, Bayern Munich or Sevilla they have evaluated it in its stadiums.
The system to be installed in the Arab Cup consists of 12 cameras located around the pitch. Those cameras they monitor 29 points on the body of each player, creating a tracking system that allows to record the exact position of each part of the body of each player.
The ball, its movement and the exact moment in which the passes are made are also monitored. This will make it possible for the algorithms to detect if a play has been offside in as little as 0.5 seconds after that possible situation occurs.
The tests in the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup that takes place from November 30 to December 18 will therefore be the scene of some tests that could lead to this system be implanted in the next soccer World Cup in Qatar to be held in November 2022.