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06th Feb 2022

Semi-automated VAR makes correct offside call in less than 20 seconds at Club World Cup

Daniel Brown

The days of agonising delays will (hopefully) soon be over

FIFA’s new semi-automated VAR system was able to correctly and accurately rule a goal out for offside inside 20 seconds at the at the Club World Cup.

The limb-tracking technology, which makes it easier and quicker to make decisions, as well as ending much of the controversy over tight offsides, is currently in place at the Club World Cup – and will be in play during Chelsea’s semi-final on Wednesday.

It is set to be used by FIFA at the World Cup in Qatar later this year and domestic competitions like the Premier League next season.

Fans have already witnessed the effectiveness of the new technology at the Club World Cup, with Al-Jazira striker Zayed al-Ameri scoring what he thought was his second goal in their win over Tahiti side Pirae on Thursday, only for VAR to rule it out for offside – with the whole process taking no more than 20 seconds.

With the use of 12 cameras to help track the movements of all players and the ball, the technology will use skeletons of players through 29 different data points which can be accessed up to 50 times per second to make the correct offside call.

Following this, a 3D graphical representation of the incident is created and sent to the VAR, with the decision shown on the big screen for supporters to view.

As well as helping VAR officials to make offside calls quicker, it will mean that assistant referees will not need to delay raising their flags for many marginal offsides.

FIFA have already tested the new system at a number of tournaments, such as the Arab Cup in December.

While the benefits of the technology are evident to see, it will not completely end controversial calls. Due to the more precise technology, there will be less of a requirement for a margin of error, so there is still a chance that a goal could be ruled out for, what many consider, a ‘toenail’.

It is yet to be confirmed whether or not a margin of error will be built into the system, and in some cases, officials will still need to decide if an attacking player is interfering with play – for example, when they are standing in the goalkeeper’s line of sight.

Changes to the offside law are set to be reviewed when football’s lawmakers hold their annual meeting next month, with the International FA Board (IFAB) preparing to meet on March 3 to consider any changes.

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