January 29, 2022

After Goal Line Technology, AI to detect offside in football?

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 could be the scene of a small upheaval, with the arrival of algorithms and cameras to identify offside situations.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup, which will take place in November and December in Qatar, may provide an opportunity to demonstrate new technology intended to aid refereeing. According to information from the British newspaper The Times, cameras scattered around the stadiums will be able to detect a possible case of offside and warn the referee.

The daily explains in its November 25 edition that a first experiment will take place between November 30 and December 16, 2021, on the occasion of the FIFA Arab Cup, a tournament that brings together sixteen African and African nations. Arabian Peninsula. If the results are conclusive, the device could return during the World Cup, but also be invited to the championships and other competitions.

offside football
The general principle of offside: when the attacker is behind the last defender when the ball is sent to him. // Source: Footy.com

The algorithm will not decide, but will raise plausible cases

It is not the algorithms backed by the detection cameras that will decide whether there is an offside or not. It is an arbitrator who will decide. The “artificial intelligence” will be satisfied with raising a possible situation of offside, which it will be necessary to solve by a human opinion. However, this raises a question: by tracing an event of this type, is there a risk that it will influence the arbitration decision a little?

Another question that this type of device can raise is its precision: how far should we go in the fineness of the measurement to determine a case of offside? In principle, it is the place of the head, trunk or legs of an attacker in the opposing camp, in relation to the last defender, which is observed. If the exceedance is microscopic, should a high be declared?

It is not the central referee who will receive the information from the device, but the assistant referees who are placed in a booth and who must intervene for very specific facts of the game – for example, if a penalty has to be awarded to a player. team in the event of a fault on the penalty area or if the goal that was scored must be validated. The VAR (that’s its name), however, has the effect of cutting the rhythm of a match.

football referee
What will happen to the referees in the future, with this kind of technology? // Source: John Garghan

As such, the device risks triggering the reluctance of part of the public, who could fear either a misinterpretation of the AI ​​(even if, in the end, it is the assistant referee who analyzes and transmits his opinion to the central referee) or, failing this, an orientation in the decision by the simple fact of having sent him a report. Not to mention the fear of tools that risk chopping the game.

The prospect of an AI capable of intervening in offside positions reminds us in any case that technology has strongly interfered in sport and more particularly in football. The teams thus face the VAR, and also wear sensors to follow their statistics in play. More recently, it is the “Goal Line Technology” which made speak about it, to check if a ball is well entered. the goal.

Photo credit of the one:
Jeff Boyd

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