The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will use AI-powered cameras to assist referees in checking for offsides.
Twelve tracking cameras are installed under the roofs of the stadiums, which use machine learning to track 29 points on players’ bodies, and a sensor in the ball that determines the ball’s position on the pitch every 500 seconds.
With this data combined, the software will generate automated alerts when players commit offside offenses, i.e. when they receive the ball closer to the other team’s goal than their last opponent. An alert will be sent to the nearby control room, which will validate the decision and inform the referees on the field.
According to Fifa, this process will happen “within a few seconds” and allow offside decisions to be made faster and more accurately. Data generated by the cameras and ball will also be used to create automated animations that will be shown on screens in the stadium and on television broadcasts to “inform all spectators in the clearest manner possible” why the referee made the decision.
It is the latest example of how sports are embracing automated technology to help referees make decisions. In the 2018 World Cup and other leagues worldwide, FIFA introduced VAR, or Video Assistant Referee in Stadiums, which allows referees to review decisions on side monitors.
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Pierluigi Collina, chair of the FIFA Referees Committee, said the new system would allow officials to make “faster and more accurate decisions”, but stressed the game would still be handled by humans, not machines.
According to Hill:
According to me, the referees and assistant referees are still responsible for the decisions on the field of play despite the new technology being described as a stealth bot.
Gianni Infantino, FIFA President, said:
FIFA is proud of the semi-automated stealth technology that will be showcased at the 2022 FIFA World Cup because it represents the culmination of three years of research and testing dedicated to bringing the best to teams, players and fans.