FIFA Will Use AI to Track Players’ Bodies to Make Offside Calls at 2022 World Cup

The semi-automated technology is designed to make more accurate offside decisions.
SPORT PREVIEW FIFA WC BALL 800x533 - FIFA Will Use AI to Track Players’ Bodies to Make Offside Calls at 2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup will feature AI-powered cameras that will aid referees in making offside decisions, according to FIFA, the world’s governing body of football.

A sensor embedded in the ball transmits its location on the field 500 times per second, while a system of 12 monitoring cameras positioned beneath stadium roofs uses machine learning to track 29 body points on players.

The software will integrate this data to create automated alerts when players engage in offside offenses, which occur when they are receiving the ball and closer to the opposing team’s goal than their second-last opponent. Alerts are delivered to officials in a close-by control room, who confirm the choice and instruct referees on the field on what call to make.

This approach, according to FIFA, will take “a few seconds and enables the speedier and more precise determination of offside.” To “educate all spectators in the clearest possible way” of why the call was made, the data gathered by the cameras and ball will also be used to create automatic animations that can be played on screens in the stadium and during TV broadcasts.

Screen20Shot202022 02 0920at209.44.2920AM - FIFA Will Use AI to Track Players’ Bodies to Make Offside Calls at 2022 World Cup

It’s the most recent illustration of how sports have adopted automatic technology to aid referees in their choices. At the 2018 World Cup, FIFA first deployed VAR, or the video assistant referee, which enables officials to review calls using monitors on the sidelines.

The decision on the playing field is still the responsibility of the referee and assistant referee. The head of the FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina, stated in a press release that the new system would enable officials to make “faster and more accurate decisions,” but he emphasized that humans, not “bots,” were still in charge of the game.

Collina remarked, “I know someone termed it ‘auto offside’.” “The decision on the field of play is still the responsibility of the officials and assistant referees.”

“This technology is the result of three years of research and testing dedicated to delivering the best for teams, players, and spectators,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino stated. […] FIFA is pleased with this achievement and is eager for the 2022 FIFA Public Cup to demonstrate to the world the advantages of semi-automated stealth technology.

The Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensor, which is housed inside the official flight ball and broadcasts its position on the field 500 times per second, is a crucial component of the system.

Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup, marking the first time an Arab nation has hosted the event. The competition will take place in November and December rather than in the summer as is normal to counteract Qatar’s heat.

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