FIFA’s Vision 2020-23 outlines the organization’s commitment to fully utilizing technology in football. FIFA is able to bring this vision to life at the FIFA World Cup 2022™ by implementing and leveraging various technologies to improve the football experience of football fans. And both on and off the field by harnessing technology in football.
Football Technologies & Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
SEMI-AUTOMATED OFFSIDE TECHNOLOGY: Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
What is it?
Semi-automated offside technology is a tool that helps video match officials and on-field officials make faster, more reproducible, and accurate offside decisions.
How does it work?
This new technology employs 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted beneath the stadium’s roof to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player 50 times per second, calculating their precise position on the field. These 29 data points were collected to cover all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls. It is one of the best Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Al Rihla, Adida’s official match ball for Qatar 2022™, will include an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor. It will aid in the detection of tight offside incidents. This sensor, located in the center of the ball, transmits ball data to the video operation room 500 times per second. It allows extremely accurate detection of the kick point.
Tech in use
This technology combines limb- and ball-tracking data. And it employs artificial intelligence to send an automated offside alert to video match officials who are inside the video operation room. And it is done whenever the ball is received by the attacker who was in an offside position at the time the ball was played by a teammate. Also before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials check the automatically selected kick point. And the automatically created offside line is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. The process takes only a few seconds.
Again exact same positional data points that were used to make the decision are then generated into a 3D animation that perfectly details the position of the player’s limbs at the moment the ball was played after the very decision has been confirmed by the referee on the pitch. This 3D animation will always show the best possible perspectives for an offside situation. It is shown on the stadium’s giant screens. And is available to FIFA’s broadcast partners.
The semi-automated offside technology setup and workflow were tested successfully at numerous test events and live at FIFA tournaments which include the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021™.
During these matches, the new technology was able to assist video match officials by assisting them. And make more accurate and reproducible offside decisions in less time.
VIDEO ASSISTANT REFEREE (VAR): One of the Key Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
What is Video Assistant Referee (VAR)?
A video assistant referee (VAR) system is a tool that assists officials. The use of video match officials (VMOs) in football was included in the Laws of the Game for the 2018/2019 season. The 2018 FIFA World Cup™ is the first world cup for VAR.
How does it work?
In these four game-changing situations, the VAR team assists the referee’s decision-making process:
- Goals and offenses that lead to a goal
- Penalty decisions and the offenses that lead to a penalty decision
- Only direct red card incidents (no second yellow card/caution) are permitted.
- Identity confusion
Further, the video assistant referee team constantly checks for clear and obvious errors related to these four match-changing situations during a match. And VAR team only communicates with the referee when there are clear and obvious errors or serious missed incidents. It falls under one of the best Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
The video assistant referee team provides assistance to the referee from a centralized video operation room (VOR) in Doha, Qatar. The VOR receives all host broadcaster camera feeds from the eight stadiums via a fiber-optic network. Each stadium’s on-field referee communicates with the VAR team via a sophisticated fiber-linked radio system.
The video assistant referee team has access to 42 broadcast cameras. It includes eight super slow motion cameras and four ultra slow motion cameras. We can see slow-motion replays in factual situations. It determines the point of contact of a physical offense or the position of an offender. Normal-speed replays make subjective decisions, such as determining the severity of an offense or whether or not a handball was punishable. The VAR team has access to the camera feeds used by semi-automated offside technology in addition to the broadcast cameras.
All FIFA host broadcaster camera feeds are available to the VAR team. The feeds (unilateral camera feeds) from cameras installed by Media Rights Licensees (MRLs) are not available to the VAR team. Such cameras, which are not part of the official host broadcaster’s camera plan, generally focus on the team that the MRLs represent.
The VAR team
The team consists of the video assistant referee (VAR) (green shirt, right to left) and three assistant VARs (AVAR1 (second from right), AVAR2 (third from right), and AVAR3 (fourth from right) (standing). All members of the video assistant referee team are top FIFA video match officials. Three replay operators (shown in black shirts) choose and present the best camera angles.
The VAR checks or reviews incidents on the quad-split monitor while watching the main camera on the upper monitor. In addition, the VAR is in charge of leading the VAR team and communicating with the on-field referee.
If an incident is being checked or reviewed, the AVAR1 focuses on the main camera and keeps the VAR informed about live play.
The AVAR2 is a video match official with an assistant referee background who checks any potential offside situations using semi-automated offside technology to speed up the VAR check and review process.
(Image from FWC 2018, replaced by one from Qatar)
The AVAR3 focuses on the TV program feed, assists the VAR in incident evaluation, and ensures effective communication between the VAR and the AVAR2 at the offside station.
Referee review area
The referee review area (RRA) is a clearly marked area where the referee can review incidents on a screen. It is situated pitchside, near the technical areas.
VAR information for fans
FIFA has developed a VAR information system for broadcasters, commentators, and infotainment to ensure that all fans in the stadium and watching on TV or mobile devices are well informed on the review process. For each match, a FIFA staff member uses a networked touch tablet to inform the broadcasters, commentators, and infotainment about the various stages of the review process, including the reason for and outcome of the review.
The person using the tablet is in the video operation room and has access to the camera angles that the VAR is viewing. The VAR information system generates VAR-specific graphic templates for TV and the stadium’s giant screen.
The Hawk-Eye Innovations Limited VAR system was successfully tested by the independent test institute RISE AB in accordance with the FIFA Quality Programme’s existing global standard. While the speaker captures the most important and relevant information and the two live observers add value to these events by gathering data at the highest level.
FIFA PLAYER APP
What is FIFA Player App?
FIFA created the FIFA Player App in collaboration with FIFPRO. It is the global representative of professional footballers, based on feedback from professional players. The app will allow each player to access their personal player-performance data shortly after each match. For the first time, FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ players will be able to access information about their on-field performance via the FIFA Player App.
How does it work?
Each player will be able to access their individual player-performance data via the FIFA Player App shortly after each match.
Enhanced football data metrics – calculated by combining enhanced event data captured by a team of highly trained FIFA football performance analysts with tracking data Examples include whether a player made a receiving offer or movement, whether their distribution action crossed opposition lines, and the amount of pressure they applied to an opponent in possession of the ball. It is one of the best Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
Enhanced Football Intelligence metrics – The FIFA Football Performance Analysis & Insights team developed a series of live algorithms and models to integrate event and tracking data. The new metrics offer novel and exciting ways to analyze the game, such as the phase of play, game-changing events, receiving locations, and pressure applied to the player in possession.
Additionally, each individual player will have access to multiple action photographs taken during key moments of each FIFA World Cup™ match. The information gathered includes enhanced football data metrics, physical performance metrics, and enhanced football intelligence metrics.
It was tested successfully with players from various teams at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™.
What is Goal-Line Technology?
Goal-line technology is a technical method of determining whether the entire ball has crossed the goal line in real-time. Since its introduction in 2014, goal-line technology has remained a fixture in the football world. It is one of the best Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
How does it work?
The technology must clearly show whether the ball has completely crossed the line. This information will help the referee make their final and last decision. It ensures an immediate response from the referee. Only the match officials’ watches receive the signal. The system employs 14 high-speed cameras mounted on the stadium’s catwalk/under the roof. The data from the cameras create a 3D animation.
On July 5, 2012, the IFAB decided that the potential use of goal-line technology in the Laws of the Game.
FOOTBALL DATA ECOSYSTEM
What is Football Data Ecosystem?
In the football world, data is a well-established commodity. Teams, media, broadcasters, and competition organizers require access to the event and positional data for players, teams, and competitions. Unfortunately, when obtained from untrustworthy sources, this data is frequently of poor quality and inconsistent, and it is also non-GDPR compliant. It is one of the best Innovations at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
While talking about the FIFA Football Data Ecosystem is a complex network of data sources, data processors, and distribution layers that provide consistent and high-quality data to all stakeholders. The FIFA Football Language serves as the foundation, serving as a blueprint for how FIFA analyzes football. The language deconstructs each aspect of the game and provides operational definitions. It also provides multiple video examples to clearly define each action.
How does it work?
Collection of event data (live)
Every recording of an action during the event data is collected during the event data collection process. It includes data for every action during the game, such as passes, shots, substitutions, match officials’ decisions, and many more.
The goal of the live data collection process is to ensure the highest possible data quality and richness within a few seconds of the action on the field of play.
Experienced analysts, known as “speakers,” are present in the stadium. They focus their entire attention on what is happening in the field of play. They communicate that information to the “writer,” who enters the information into the system. The speaker transcribes the actions on the pitch using simple and fluid language. It allows the writer to easily input all of this information into the system. And deliver the data to the data recipients in real-time.
Aside from the speaker and the writer, up to two live observers are there to validate the live data and collect a second layer of data with additional information. Speaker captures the most important information. And the two live observers add value to these events by gathering data at the highest level.
Collection of positional data
It collects positional data (x-y coordinates) for all players, referees, and the ball. The optical tracking system can capture player positioning multiple times per second, to the centimeter. This information reflects the position of the player and can calculate speed, distance, and direction of play. It helps to gain deeper insights and then also optimize physical and tactical performance.
Football Data Platform
FIFA provides a dedicated platform for data and video analysis to all relevant stakeholders. The platform’s primary goal is to present data from multiple sources to relevant stakeholders in an insightful.
It was tested at FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ and the FIFA Club World Cup™ in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
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