Semi-automatic offside, what is the technology that will debut at the World Cup and how does it work

Already controlled by the Var, now the offside becomes semi-automatic. And, in the future, it could turn into an automatism as it already happens for the goal line technology, which thanks to a chip in the ball and through a vibration of the clock communicates to the referee whether the ball has crossed the goal line or not. The semi-automatic offside he will make his debut at the World Cup which will be played in Qatar between November and December: the wish of FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been fulfilled. Ifab, the international board that evaluates and chooses the new rules of football, said it was “very satisfied” with the experimentation of the new technology. To then give the final go-ahead.

How the semi-automatic offside works

The new technology revolves around twelve cameras installed around the field, which can reach eighteen with those of televisions. A software based on artificial intelligence receives the images and analyzes them carefully. All the players end up under the magnifying glass, whose movements are studied through 29 points identified along their skeleton. At the same time, the movement of the balloon is followed with a frequency of 50 frames per second: this means that 50 images are made available for every second. So it will be a breeze for the software to pinpoint the exact moment when the ball is hit. And, consequently, draw the lines of the offside of the attacker and the defenders taking as reference the twenty-ninth point of the cross among those monitored closest to the goal.

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Why is it called semi-automatic?

A mechanism that seems infallible, therefore. Why then call it “semi-automatic”? In reality, in the decision-making process, which is almost entirely computerized, there remains a human step. The last, the decisive one. The artificial intelligence will give an answer on any offside in about twenty seconds at the most. The information will be transmitted to the Var room which will have the last word. In fact, it can change it in case of external interference or software malfunction. In short, the time in which the report will arrive directly to the referee, in headphones or on the clock, is still far away. Not by much, however: we will start talking about it and doing new tests in 2023, after the end of the World Cup.

Var and offside, because we still need to improve

Since the Var was introduced, the offside rule seems to be the one that has received the greatest advantages. The evil ones say it is the only one that worked. At least from a “geographic”, “positional” point of view: with the Var the lines drawn by technology are precise, so doubts about positions offside or onside they disappear in a few moments. What makes people discuss every Sunday, if anything, is linked to the human component, that is to the choice of the referee and his assistants: deciding whether the position of the attacker offside is active (in that case the goal is to be canceled) or passive (valid goal). Will the new offside be able to put an end to the debates?

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