The upcoming 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, which will take place in Qatar from November 20 to December 18, 2022, promises to be full of novelties, including the use of a semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) aimed at detecting offside situations more accurately and consistently. The technology has been approved by FIFA and will be used for the first time during the tournament, following successful tests at the 2021 Arab Cup and the Club World Cup.
SAOT uses 12 cameras placed under the roof of the stadium to track the ball and each player (up to 29 data points checked 50 times per second), determining their exact position on the field and detecting offside situations. By combining data from the ball (which has a sensor sending data to the video control room) and players, and using artificial intelligence, the tool automatically alerts the video assistant referee (VAR) whenever a forward receives the ball in an offside position. Before informing the on-field referee, the VARs manually validate the decision by checking the moment of the pass and the offside line, both of which are generated automatically.
SAOT is designed to support both the VAR and the on-field referee in making faster, more accurate, and consistent decisions on offside situations. According to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, this semi-automated offside technology is another step in using technology to enhance modern football and optimize the VAR system.
The World Cup 2022 will also feature other new measures, such as allowing each team to present a list of 26 players instead of 23, a change introduced to offer more flexibility due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unusual timing of the tournament. The number of substitutions per team per match has also been increased from three to five, a measure that had been adopted for high-level matches during the pandemic and has since been made permanent.
Furthermore, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has decided to extend the trials of a sixth substitution in case of a head injury until August 2023, to collect enough data for a valid scientific decision.
Overall, the FIFA World Cup 2022 promises to be a tournament full of novelties, with football fans around the world eagerly anticipating the competition.