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FIFA is going to use AI for offside calls at the 2022 World Cup

It will be used to help referees make decisions.

screenshot of fifa ai offside rule in action
Image: FIFA

The 2022 World Cup will be using AI-powered cameras to help officiate the offside rule. That’s the latest news from FIFA, football’s governing body about this year’s tournament, which is in Qatar this time around.

The system won’t be making refereeing decisions. Instead, the semi-automated system generates alerts, which go to a control room. The officials in that room can then confer and tell the referees on the field if they need to make a call.

The system uses a sensor inside the ball that sends its position on the field 500 times a second. Twelve cameras under the stadium’s roof track the players’ positions.

They also track up to 29 points on the players’ bodies, so they can accurately show if the player is offside or not. The system can accurately show the position of all players on the pitch and each body part that is used for offside calls.

It’s a complicated system, but then the offside rule is a complicated one. This innovative technology was used in Russia in 2018, and FIFA decided that they wanted to push it even further.

It’s not just decision-making that the system aids. When a call is made, the system also creates a 3D animation of the call, which can be played back by broadcasters or on the big screens in the stadium. That level of transparency helps the fans understand what’s going on.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s still human officials making the final call. The AI-powered offside system is a tool to aid them, not one to make the decisions. At least, not at this stage.

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