FIFA OKs sensor ball and semi-automatic offside tracking for the 2022 World Cup

The 2022 FIFA World Cup will feature an updated VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system known as semi-automated offside technology, today’s International Football Association. SAOT will replace the old (and still) VAR system that FIFA first introduced in Russia. The new system features 12 stadium cameras tracking the position of both the ball and each individual player, including 29 different data points on each player’s limbs and extremities. In addition, a ball equipped with a motion sensor is used in each game, providing live data on a player’s position at the time of the kick.

FIFA believes SOAT will help match officials make quicker and more accurate offside decisions. “VAR has already had a very positive impact on football and we can see that the number of fatal errors has already been reduced dramatically. We expect that semi-automatic offside technology can take us a step further,” FIFA Referees Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina said in a statement.

Corresponding , the new system should reduce the average time it takes to make a VAR offside decision from 70 seconds to 25 seconds. The old VAR system required manually drawing offside lines and calculating the kick point. FIFA officials claim that SOAT will automatically select both the offside line and the goal kick point in seconds, using both the data from the ball and the cameras’ limb tracking data. Human officials will then manually confirm each decision. After each decision is made, spectators are shown a 3D animation visualizing the offside decision.

While it might seem risky to launch an entirely new virtual refereeing system at a global event like Qatar 2022, a simpler version of SOAT was tested at last year’s and this year’s FIFA Club World Cup. You can view a SOAT demonstration here.

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