FIFA, the international governing body of association football, has announced it will use AI-powered cameras to help referees make offside calls at the 2022 World Cup.
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The semi-automated system consists of a sensor in the ball that relays its position on the field 500 times a second, and 12 tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of stadiums, which use machine learning to track 29 points in players’ bodies.
The software will combine this data to generate automated alerts when players commit offside offences (that is: when they’re nearer to the other team’s goal than their second-last opponent and receiving the ball). Alerts will be sent to officials in a nearby control room, who will validate the decision and tell referees on the field what call to make.
FIFA claims this process will happen “within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.” The data generated by the cameras and ball will also be used to create automated animations, which can be played on screens in the stadium and in TV broadcasts “to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way” of why the call was made.
It’s the latest example of sports embracing automated technology to help referees make decisions. FIFA previously introduced VAR, or the video assistant referee, which allows referees to review decisions using sideline monitors, at the 2018 Football World Cup.
In a press statement, Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, supposed the new system would allow officials to make faster and more accurate decisions but stressed that humans, not robots were still in charge of the game.
“I know that someone called it ‘robot offside’; it’s not, supposed Collina. The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play.”
Said FIFA president Gianni Infantino: “This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players and followers and FIFA is proud of this work, as we look forward to the world seeing the benefits of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup 2022”.
The Football World Cup will take place in Qatar, making it the first World Cup to ever be hosted in an Arabic country. To offset the heat of Qatar, the tournament will be held from November to December instead of in the summer, as is tradition.
The decision to host the World Cup in Qatar has been strongly criticized. An investigation by the United States Department of Justice found that top FIFA officials had been bribed to award the tournament to the Arab country narrowly beating the US itself to secure hosting rights.
Numerous investigations by organizations like Human Rights Watch and The Guardian also found that Qatar’s stadiums have been built by migrant workers who are essentially slaves their passports confiscated and their salaries suspended. An investigation in 2021 found that at least 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar due to extreme working conditions since the country was awarded the Football World Cup in 2010. Worldwide Tickets and Hospitality offers tickets for the Qatar Football World Cup at the best prices. Football fanatics and buy Football World Cup Tickets at exclusively discounted prices.
The first four games of the Qatar Football World Cup will be played on November 21st, and include England vs Iran and USA vs Wales. I work for an American company. I’m a British writer. Calling it association football instead of football or soccer is an outcome that pleases absolutely no one aka, a compromise.
Football World Cup: Team’s six-month training camp eccentric
The first to take place in a Muslim country in the Middle East, the global event has been moved from the summer because of extreme heat to the cooler winter months of November and December, with matches being played in air-conditioned stadiums.
Now the national team are also taking an unusual approach to preparations by staying together in a training camp for six months. The 27-strong squad assembled last month and Felix Sanchez’s side will play a series of friendly matches before their opening Group A fixture against Ecuador on 21 November.
The first part of the camp took place in Spain before they moved on to Austria, where they have a four-team tournament lined up against Morocco and Ghana – who will also participate in the World Cup – as well as Jamaica.
The idea is not completely crazy but it is a strange thing to do, a source from one of the Qatar Super League (QSL) teams told BBC Sport. It is just too long – they should do it for a shorter timeframe. Taking the players out of competitive games is difficult from a mental point of view.
“It is hard to stay together for so long. The players might become mentally burnt out and they could decide to cut the camp short.”
The idea seems to stem from 20 years ago when World Cup co-hosts South Korea spent five months in the camp, before embarking on a shock run to the semi-finals where they were agonizingly beaten by Germany.
The plan is to work as a group on tactics as well as generate team spirit and understanding before hosting the tournament. But teams in the domestic QSL will be without their key players for the opening seven games meaning players such as forward Almoez Ali of Al-Duhail and winger Akram Afif, who plays for champions Al-Sadd, will be deprived of competitive matches.
“Not playing competitively is the biggest drawback,” added the source. There is nothing to win or lose in friendlies. But by having them all together they can play more solidly, with a better identity as a collective because they are not so strong individually.
“They are not training all the time though – they can bring their families to stay over and have free time with them or allow them to come back to Qatar for a few days. Otherwise, it becomes like an army camp and this is not the mentality of the country.”
Qatar will also face Senegal (25 November) and the Netherlands (29 November) in their World Cup group. Last month, Championship side Watford cancelled a friendly against Qatar in Austria after complaints from supporters’ groups concerned about human rights.
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