In Qatar, for the first time at a World Cup, the referees get help from a semi-automatic system for offside decisions. Will robots soon make all decisions?

With semi-automated offside technology, FIFA wants to make the decisions of the video referees faster and more reliable at the World Cup. As announced by the World Football Association, the system will be used in the 64 tournament games in Qatar.

«We are ready to use it. We are satisfied with the test results, we are continuing our work,” said FIFA chief referee Pierluigi Collina in a digital media interview about the new technology. “We want accurate decisions,” added the Italian.

Successful tests

The new measuring technology for offside decisions was last tested at the Arab Cup and the Club World Cup in February. A 500 Hertz signal in the ball and a dozen cameras that record the player’s movements via data points are used to record the position of players who may be offside even more precisely than before. The data is checked by a video assistant and immediately forwarded to the referee on the field.

According to Collina, in addition to more precise measurements, they also hope to save time. So far, offside checks would take around 70 seconds, with the new system you can reduce it to around 25 seconds. The fans in the stadium should be informed about the decisions via video screens. “FIFA wants to continue promoting technology to improve football at all levels,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

Collina: “Referee remains final decision-maker”

Collina again contradicted the accusation that the technology would replace the referees with robots. “I know that some are talking about an offside robot, which is wrong, because ultimately the referee and the assistant referees continue to decide,” said the former top referee.

An end to the development is not in sight. But: “The referee remains the last decision-maker,” said Collina. The introduction of the video referee is a success story. “The game is cleaner, there is no more tugging in standard situations,” said Collina – and swallows and simulation have completely disappeared.