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FIFA approves new technology for offside detection during matches

By News Desk

The Federation of International Football Federations (FIFA) has approved the use of semi-automated technology, to reduce the timing referees often use to determine offside infractions during matches and the system would be used officially at the World Cup in Qatar later in the year.

As gathered, the football world governing body has concluded plans to install state-of-the-art facilities in all world cup match venues in Qatar, to ensure it becomes effective during the tournament.

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 were said to have the capacity of synchronizing movements of the ball at 100 percent accuracy, 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.

As programmed by the new technology, 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 demonstrated 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.

Speaking on the new technology, Fifa’s head of refereeing, Pierluigi Collina, assured football lovers that the new technology does not alter the rules but further embellishes the game to allow all parties on the field gets accuracy.

On the planned deployment of robot referees, 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, debunked claims that increased use of technology would render referees virtually impotent in terms of decision-making.

“I read about robot referees. 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,” the former referee added.

While there has been debate about the time taken to determine offsides – especially what has been dubbed ‘toenail decisions’ – Collina does not view the new offside technology any differently from the systems used to determine whether a ball has crossed the line or not.

Famously, that did not work in the first game of the Premier League’s Project Restart, when Hawk-Eye did not spot Aston Villa keeper Orjan Nyland had carried the ball into his own goal. Collina does not feel that is an issue.

“Technology works most of the time. That is one wrong decision I remember in thousands of correct ones. Goalline technology offers very high accuracy. If the ball crosses or doesn’t cross the line by a few millimeters everyone is happy. It is the same with semi-automated technology. If the player is on or offside, the technology should be praised then as well.

“We cannot get it down to four or five seconds for a decision. That would be the wrong expectation. But we have come down from 70 seconds to 20 or 25. That is important. This system will be faster and more accurate.”

Meanwhile, Premier League pair Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver have been selected among the elite panel of referees who will gather in Qatar two weeks before the World Cup for final instructions.

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