December 4, 2023

FIFA, the international governing body for football*, has announced that it will use artificial intelligence-powered cameras to assist referees with offside calls at the 2022 World Cup.

The semi-automatic system It consists of a sensor in the ball that transmits its position on the field 500 times per second, and 12 tracking cameras installed under the stadium ceiling, which use machine learning to track 29 points in the players’ bodies.

The software will combine this data to generate automated alerts when players commit offside offenses (ie: when they are closer to the other team’s goal than their last opponent and receive the ball). Alerts will be sent to officials in the nearby control room, who will validate the decision and tell referees on the field what call needs to be made.

FIFA claims that this process will happen “within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.” The data generated by the cameras and the ball will also be used to create automated animations, which can be played on screens in the stadium and in TV broadcasts “to inform all spectators in the clearest way possible” why the call was made.

It is the latest example of a sport embracing robotic technology to help referees make decisions. FIFA previously introduced VAR, or Video Assistant Referee technology, which allows referees to review decisions using side monitors, at the 2018 World Cup.

In a press release, Pierluigi Collina, chair of the FIFA Referees Committee, said the new system would allow officials to make “faster and more accurate decisions”, but stressed that humans – not “bots” – were still in charge of the game.

“I know someone called it ‘auto offside’,” Collina said. “The referees and assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said: “This technology is the culmination of three years of research and testing dedicated to delivering the best for teams, players and fans. […] FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to seeing the world see the benefits of semi-automated stealth technology at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.”

An essential part of the system is the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor, placed inside the official flight ball, which transmits its position on the field 500 times per second.
Photo: FIFA

The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, making it the first World Cup to be hosted by an Arab country. To balance Qatar’s heat, the tournament will be held from November to December instead of in summer, as is customary.

The decision to host the Qatar World Cup in Qatar was subjected to severe criticism. An investigation by the US Department of Justice found that Senior FIFA officials have been bribed To award the tournament to the Arab country (with a small margin on the United States itself to secure the hosting rights).

Numerous investigations have been conducted by organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Watchman I also found that Qatari stadiums were built by migrant workers who are basically slaves Confiscation of their passports and suspension of their salaries. An investigation in 2021 found that At least 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar Due to harsh working conditions (such as no access to water) since the country won the World Cup in 2010.

The first four matches of the 2022 World Cup It will be held on November 21England vs Iran and USA vs Wales (all teams in Group B).

* I work for an American company. I am a British writer. Calling it “soccer” instead of “soccer” or “soccer” is an outcome that absolutely satisfies no one – aka compromise.

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