World Cup 2022: Semi-automatic offside is inaugurated with controversy at the World Cup: what is it, how does it work and when is it used?

The semi-automatic off-side comes to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and it seems that FIFA wants to keep it in operation after the tournament. In the 3rd minute of the opening match between Qatar and Ecuador we could already see it in action after Enner Valencia’s disallowed goal.

The system will help video refereeing teams and on-field referees to make quicker, more accurate and reliable decisions.

The play will be recreated on stadium screens and sent to televisions with a 3D animation. The 3D recreation process will be carried out once the decision has already been made by the referee.

Twelve cameras installed under the stadium roof will capture the movements of the ball and up to 29 data points of each player. It will do so 50 times per second to calculate their exact positions on the pitch. These data sets will include the limbs and body parts that are taken into account to generate an offside.

At the heart of the Adidas A Rhina ball will be an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that will send a data packet 500 times per second to the video room, allowing the exact moment at which the ball is struck to be detected precisely. There will be two basic elements for this: the ball and its sensor plus the twelve cameras.

Mixing the tracking data of the players’ limbs and the ball through artificial intelligence, this new technology will automatically alert the video room the moment a player receives the ball in an illegal position.

The video refereeing team will manually check the exact moment of the hit provided by the data to corroborate its accuracy before reporting it to the main referee.

Everything will be resolved in 25 seconds

If there is a goal, an orange flag will automatically appear, signifying that there might be an offside. The average of this whole operation before this novel system was 70 seconds and now it will go to 25, much less than half.

This process was started in 2019, although Covid delayed everything. In 2021, various tests began, especially in the Arabian Cup, and this year it could be seen in the European Super Cup between Eintracht and Real Madrid.

Pierluigi Collina, FIFA’s head of refereeing, is one of the great advocates of its use and that of technology in soccer: “There is talk of robot referees, it looks good, but it’s not true. On-field referees will continue to be decisive. Semi-automatic offside will only be used when a player who is offside touches the ball. If there is interference in the play, it will be the referee’s decision.

In four or five seconds it will be possible to detect offside, but that is impossible, it will be in 25 or 20 seconds, which is very important. The goal is to be quicker and more accurate”.