Sunday, May 29, 2022

Chelsea to become first Premier League side to play with ‘robot-refs’ to make offside decisions at Club World Cup

CHELSEA will become the first Prem side to play with “robo-ref” offside decisions at this month’s Club World Cup.

Fifa is pushing ahead with its live trials of the “limb tracking” technology that uses computer programs and algorithms to determine offside calls.


The Blues will become the first Prem side to play with “Robo-ref’s’ at the Club World CupCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Zurich bosses want to give the green light to using the system at the World Cup when it kicks off in Qatar in November.

And after what was deemed a successful pilot during December’s Arab Cup, played in six of the eight World Cup stadiums in Doha, Thomas Tuchel’s men will have the semi-automatic decision-making system in place when they go to Abu Dhabi.

The system uses up to 12 cameras in the stadium roof to capture the movement of all the players and the ball.

Up to 29 data points for each player, making up an animated skeleton, can be assessed 50 times per second to ensure decisions are correct.

If an attacking player is in an offside position, the tracking system alerts the VAR operator within half a second.

That message is then sent on to the referee, who is able to blow if he agrees the attacker was interfering with play.


The new system, which has been devised with the help of a number of tech companies, will end the painful, drawn-out process of waiting for lines to be calculated and drawn on screen.

It also would stop the current instructions to assistants not to flag instantly on “tight” offsides, which has been criticised for increasing the likelihood of injuries caused by desperate defenders.

Fifa’s football technology and innovation director Johannes Holzmuller explained: “When the ball is played, the real-time AI software can send a signal automatically to the VAR.

“We will have a committed assistant VAR who can process the offside data and help determine if the player deemed to be offside was active and interfering with play, so they can swiftly validate and confirm the decision.”

Chelsea’s first match in Abu Dhabi will be against Tahiti’s AS Pirae, Al Jazira from the host nation or Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on February 9, with the final, probably against Brazil’s Copa Libertadores champion Palmeiras three days later.

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