Fifa has confirmed semi-automated, state-of-the-art technology will be used at the World Cup in Qatar to speed up the time taken to reach offside decisions.
In addition to a sensor in the middle of the ball, which sends data 500 times a second to determine the exact kick-point, 12 dedicated multi-tracking cameras that are “100% synchronised” will be mounted on the roof of each stadium to track the ball and 29 points on each player, sending data 50 times per second to calculate their exact position on the pitch.
Any player in an offside position will trigger an alert in the video assistant referee booth that can be relayed to the on-pitch referee.
The system was trialled at last year’s Arab Cup and Club World Cup, where it was estimated to have reduced the time taken to make offside VAR decisions from 70 to 25 seconds.
“We are very positive. It is ready,” said Fifa’s head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina.
No robot referees
It has been claimed the increased use of technology is rendering referees virtually impotent in terms of decision-making.
Collina, who was voted the world’s best referee for six consecutive seasons from 1998 to 2003 and took charge of the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany, denies this is the case and says there will still be room for debate around decisions.
“I read about robot referees,” he said. “I understand this is very good for headlines but it is not the case.
“The match officials are still involved in the decision-making process. The semi-automated technology only gives an answer when a player is in an offside position when they play the ball. The assessment of interfering with an opponent and seeing if a handball or foul was committed remains at the discretion of the referee.
“Our goal is to get referees taking decisions correctly on the field. If something wrong should happen, the referee may take advantage of the technology to get a better vision of what happened – but there will still be room for discussion.”