FIFA announced on the 1st that it will use OKBET semi-automatic offside recognition technology (SAOT) at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, which opens in November this year, to assist referees and video assistant referees (VAR) to make offside decisions faster and more accurately.
According to reports, the SAOT system is mainly composed of three parts: a special camera, an in-ball sensor and an artificial intelligence system. During the World Cup, 12 special cameras will be installed on the top of each stadium to track the football and each player on the field, and send data at a frequency of 50 times per second, which can accurately determine the position of each player. The Qatar World Cup designated ball "Al Rihla" will have built-in sensors sending data at a frequency of 500 times per second for more accurate determination of passing spots. The data collected by special cameras and in-ball sensors will be analysed by an artificial intelligence system to make an offside judgment in just a few seconds.
Once offside is detected, the SAOT system will automatically send an alert to the video assistant referee to assist VAR in making judgments, and then VAR will communicate with the referee on the field as appropriate. After the referee completes the penalty, SAOT will generate a 3D animation image and play it on the big screen and TV in the field to more intuitively show the specific position of the player's offside.
According to Fifa football technology and innovation director Holtz Muller, the SAOT system has been tested in 2021 Arab Cup, 2021 Club World Cup and other events, and achieved remarkable results. With this technology, the average time for VAR to check for offside has been reduced from 70 seconds to 25 seconds. 3D animated images can provide fans with the best angle to understand offside penalties, thus bringing a better viewing experience.
"The introduction of VAR by FIFA in the 2018 World Cup in Russia has greatly reduced the probability of major misjudgments. We are confident that the semi-automatic offside recognition technology can go a step further in the Qatar World Cup and help referees make the most correct and best decisions on the field." Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referee Committee, said in a video interview.
The famous former Italian referee also emphasized that this technology cannot determine all complex offside situations, and there are still certain restrictions on the use of the scene. "I know some people will exaggerate that this is a 'robot referee', but it's not true. The head referee and assistant referee on the court are responsible for the final penalty, and all technological means are to assist the referee."