The semi-automatic offside

Publicado por LabHipermedia en

Nowadays, sports are being monitored and supplemented by the latest technology. To evaluate player performance and achieve results, many clubs have used Big Data and other tools. On the other hand, with the purpose of achieving a fairer game, assistance through video has been introduced in the world of refereeing.

In the case of football, it has caused controversy due to its use, especially in Spain. However, this sport treats to
achieve a greater precision with technological procedures. In this article, we will try to see the progress that can be made with the offside rule.

The offside at present

It is one of the most classic and basic rules of football. For its application, the referee depends mainly on his assistant referee, who is the one who sanctions this type of action by raising the flag. That thing depended in the past on the human eye to detect it. However, with the arrival of VAR (Video Assistant Referee), the outlook has changed. It is true that the use of technology is linked to scoring chances or other highly relevant events in the game, but its influence is becoming increasingly important.

As we know, the ability of the referees is notorious and they train to achieve their goal, which is to be as fair as possible. Even so, they cannot always be right and define what is correct and what is not. Therefore, there is technology to ratify and correct the mistake. It provides us an objective application of the rule by drawing of lines. In this video released by the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation) it is explained.

The new method to detect infringement

The news appeared in the summer of 2021 when one of FIFA’s technology providers presented a semi-automatic system to detect offside. The technology provider, which already uses a certified virtual offside line (VOL) system, demonstrated various aspects of the development process and the technology used. Its objective is to supply a semi-automatic offside decision with the minimum delay possible. In that way, referees can quickly receive help in these actions.

In the development of advanced offside technology, one of the main difficulties was to precise and automate the detection of the moment when the passer hits the ball. However, this could be fixed.


The semi-automatic offside will be articulated in a similar way to the VAR. Cameras will be placed under the roof of each stadium to track player´s extremities, in order to
accurately establish the line of play in real time. This will help the referees to appreciate the quickest actions or those that have little margin for error. If the semi-automatic technology detects a possible offside, the system will automatically alert the VAR operator to review it.

Although it is a great help, the main objective of this tool is to help validity of the referees’ decision, according to Pierluigi
Collina, FIFA´s director of refereeing.

«In an offside incident, the decision is made after having analyzed not only the position of the players but also their involvement in the play. The technology, today or tomorrow, can draw a line, but the evaluation of an interference with the game or with an opponent remains in the responsibility of the referee», he said.

This new system collects up 29 points or data, 50 times per second on each footballer. It is expected that fouls can be detected much faster and it could contribute to a more fluid

The semi-automatic offside has already been tested in some European countries, but the litmus test has been carried out in the Arab Cup 2021 from November 30 to December 18. Pierluigi Collina, current FIFA refereeing director, talked about it in the Italian newspaper La Gazzeta dello Sport. “We are experimenting with new technologies to get answers quickly. In the FIFA Arab Cup, the tests went very well. We are optimistic that it can be used in the 2022 World Cup», assured the former referee.

In addition to this, he defends this technology is much faster than the one currently used.

It does not work exactly like goal technology, where the clock determines without margin of error if a ball has crossed the goal line: in this case, it is an accurate visual support that serves to help the referee who, in the end, is the one with the last word.

The figure of the assistant referee is questioned

With the new developments demonstrated, several voices have left statements saying that line judges in the future would not exist.

In an interview realized by Labhipermedia with Pau Cebrían Devís, an assistant referee with proven experience, he gave his opinion on linesman could disappear with the inclusion of this type of technology.»I think that within a football field it is important that there is a team, not a person», affirmed the Valencian referee. In addition, he added that having different angles of vision in the same situation is essential to get it right.

The controversy is served in relation to the use of this tool and the figure of the assistant referee in this case. Now, we only have a test of value, but we will see if it has a future when its implementation begins in more renowned events.

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