FIFA Brings Microchips to the World Cup With New Offside Tracking Tech




 

FIFA will debut new offside tracking technology at this year's World Cup, as officiating across sports continues to experiment with automation.

The governing body announced the system, and showed off some of its capabilities, on Friday. Twelve tracking cameras monitoring players 50 times per second will be synced with an "inertial measurement unit" sensor inside the ball to allow officials to make offside calls in a matter of seconds.

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"We are aware that sometimes the process to check a possible offside takes too long, especially when the offside incident is very tight," FIFA referees committee chairman Pierluigi Collina said in a statement. "This is where semi-automated offside technology comes in-to offer faster and more accurate decisions."

FIFA greenlit the use of video assistant referees at the 2018 World Cup, turning to the monitors over 400 times during the tournament. This new system, however, will only be used for offsides calls. Data from the connected ball will tell video match officials when it was kicked, while data pulled from the tracking cameras can determine if any part of an attacking player's body was offside at that point in time. The new system was trialed at various events, including the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup.

"Semi-automated offside technology is an evolution of the VAR systems that have been implemented across the world," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement. "This technology is the culmination of three years of dedicated research and testing to provide the very best for the teams, players and fans who will be heading to Qatar later this year."

American football organizations have also experimented with inserting tracking equipment into balls. The USFL eliminated 10-yard chains in favor of a tracking and visualization system. The NFL also tracks ball position as part of its Next Gen Stats system. However it has chosen to continue relying on human measurements for officiating purposes.

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