VAR has become an integral part of modern football and will make its return in Qatar four years after its World Cup debut.
Video Assistant Referee technology was first introduced in Russia 2018 and was enough of a success that it was rolled out across all the major European leagues in the following years.
Reigning champions France were the first beneficiaries of a World Cup VAR decision after Antoine Griezmann won a penalty in their tournament opener against Australia.
The implementation of the technology has been highly controversial in recent seasons for its involvements in all major moments.
Yet FIFA have already confirmed that VAR will be in operation at this winter’s World Cup – albeit with some changes from usual…
What is semi-automated offside technology?
FIFA’s innovative limb-tracking offside technology has been approved for use at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
It has been undergoing vigorous trials for years and it only made its debut in December.
The new system aims to both reduce the time it takes to make an offside decision while providing greater clarity to supporters around each call.
The AI-based tech uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras to create three-dimensional models of a player’s skeleton to determine whether any part of their body is offside.
This 3D animation will then be shown on the big screens in the stadium and be made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners, including the likes of BBC and ITV, to screen for fans at home.
Chelsea became the first Premier League club to experience semi-automated VAR during their Club World Cup win in February.
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How will it differ from the Premier League?
The English top-flight does not yet use semi-automated VAR, and instead relies on the same broadcast cameras that Sky and BT use.
For Qatar, a sensor will be placed in the centre of Adidas’ ‘Al Rihla’ World Cup match balls, recording data 500 times a second to detect when exactly the ball has been kicked.
That then combines with the limb-tracking data to alert match officials inside the VAR room whenever a player was offside at the moment the pass was played.
So in addition to reducing the average VAR call from 70 seconds to 25, it will also stop officials resorting to drawing lines to judge offsides.
Embarrassingly though, the Premier League is the only major European league without an official chosen to act as VAR in Qatar…
What has been said?
FIFA President Gianni Infantino: “At the FIFA World Cup in 2018, FIFA took the brave step to use VAR technology on the world’s biggest stage, and it has proven to be an undisputable success.
“Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world.
“This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year, and FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“FIFA is committed to harnessing technology to improve the game of football at all levels, and the use of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is the clearest possible evidence.”
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