World Cup

Technology that automatically detects whether a player is offside is on course to be used at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and could be in the Premier League by 2023.

The Hawk-Eye system uses cameras to track the movement of both the ball and the players to determine whether a player is offside or onside at the moment a pass is made.

At first, it will work as a semi-automated system which sends a message to the video assistant referee (VAR) who then decides whether the offside player was interfering with play.

But ultimately the technology could mean officials on the pitch are notified instantly as to whether a player is offside or not.

Hawk-Eye have been staging non-live tests of their technology at the stadiums of Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City – the Premier League’s four Champions League representatives – this season.

And, according to The Times, the company has informed FIFA the technology is ‘ready to go’ with just over a year left until the World Cup.

FIFA must approve use of the automated offside technology, which could also feature at February’s FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, a tournament which will involve Chelsea.

Referees’ chiefs are confident the technology could be implemented in the Premier League by the start of the 2023-24 season.

FIFA is believed to prefer the semi-automated option in which VAR officials are notified of the Hawk-Eye verdict and then make the final judgement.

It would replace the sometimes contentious VAR ‘lines’ system used to judge whether an attacker is offside.

But it is possible to notify the on-field referee and two linesman of the decision right away.

The system makes use of 12 cameras positioned around the pitch and also artificial intelligence that monitors 29 points on each player’s body using a ‘skeletal player-tracking system.’

The ball’s movement is also tracked and computers will be able to determine an offside call within 0.5 seconds of real time.

Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s chief of global football development, gave his backing to the automated offside technology earlier this year.

He said: ‘Automated means it goes directly from the signal to the linesman and the linesman has on his watch a red light that tells him offside or not offside.

‘At the moment, we have situation where the players are on lines to see if they are offside or not.

‘On average, the time we have to wait is around 70 seconds, sometimes one minute 20 seconds, sometimes a little bit longer when the situation is very difficult to appreciate.

‘It is so important because we see many celebrations are cancelled after that for marginal situations and that’s why I believe it is a very important step.’

Two weeks ago, Wenger added on the subject: ‘In 2022 at the World Cup, we’ll be much better able to make very quick offside decisions. And it will stop the game less because that is what the VAR can be faulted with.’


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