At the 2022 World Cup, FIFA will use artificial intelligence to detect players' movements and make offside calls

At the 2022 World Cup, FIFA will use artificial intelligence to detect players’ movements and make offside calls

FIFA, the international governing body of association football, has revealed that for the 2022 World Cup, AI-powered cameras would assist referees in making offside calls.

The semi-automated technology includes a sensor in the ball that sends its location on the field 500 times per second, as well as 12 tracking cameras positioned beneath stadium roofs that utilise machine learning to track 29 spots on players’ bodies.

When players commit offside offences (that is, when they are closer to the other team’s goal than their second-last opponent and receive the ball), the software will combine this data to provide automated notifications. Alerts will be relayed to officials in a nearby control room, who will authenticate the decision and inform the referees on the field of the call.

This technique, according to FIFA, will take “a few seconds and implies that offside rulings can be determined faster and more precisely.” The data gathered by the cameras and ball will also be utilised to create automatic animations that will be shown on stadium screens and in TV broadcasts “to tell all spectators in the clearest possible way” about why the call was made.

It is the most recent example of a sport utilising automated technology to assist referees in making decisions. At the 2018 World Cup, FIFA implemented VAR, or video assistant referee, which allows referees to review decisions using sideline monitors.

Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, stated in a press statement that the new system would allow officials to make “faster and more accurate decisions,” but emphasised that humans, not “robots,” would still be in charge of the game.

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The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar, marking the first time a World Cup has been held in an Arabic country. To avoid the heat of Qatar, the event will be held from November to December, rather than in the summer, as is customary.

The decision to hold the World Cup in Qatar has been widely panned. According to a Department of Justice investigation, top FIFA officials were bribed to give the event to the Arab country (narrowly beating the US itself to secure hosting rights).

Numerous investigations by groups like as Human Rights Watch and The Guardian revealed that Qatar’s stadiums were built by migrant labourers who were effectively treated as slaves, with their passports taken and their wages suspended. According to a 2021 study, at least 6,500 migrant labourers have died in Qatar as a result of harsh working circumstances (such as a lack of access to water) since the country was granted the World Cup in 2010.

The first four games of the 2022 World Cup will be contested on November 21st, with England taking on Iran and the United States taking on Wales (all teams in Group B).

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