Background of Semi-Automated Offside Technology
Usually tight offiside calls are settled with the help of Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in modern-day football, but it needs multiple replays for a decision to be made.VAR looks at replays, manually determining the point of last contact by the passer, by freezing the frame. Problems: It is impossible to accurately show actual 3D space on a 2D image. Secondly, it is actually quite difficult to determine the exact point of contact for the passer. However, the new Semi-Automated Offside Technology is able to make the decision swiflty without looking at multiple replays.
- Offside rule prevents an attacking player from entering the space between the final defensive player (most often the goalkeeper) and the rest of the defence before the ball is played.
- If a player is found in an offside position, the attacking team loses the ball and concedes a free-kick from the point where the attacking player was deemed to be offside.
- Objective: The objective of the offside rule is to prevent attacking players from perpetually camping in front of the opponent’s goal.
- This would have allowed attacking team to push as many players as possible into the opponent’s area and continuously pass long balls to them.
- The game of football would not be able to balance defence and offence play without offside rule.
Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT)
- Components: The SAOT works on two components– a sensor inside the match ball (Adidas’s Al Rihla) that is held using suspension technology, and existing player tracking tools that are part of the VAR system.
- Working: The small in-ball device provides a precise positional data and also detects ball movement in a three-dimensional space.
- Every time the ball is touched, data is sent in real time (at a whopping 500 frames per second) to a network of antennae set up around the playing field.
- The 12 Hawk-Eye cameras set up around the turf track both the ball and the players, with as many as 29 separate points in the human body tracked.
- Both the data sets are run through artificial intelligence software which provides automated alerts to the match officials whenever a player is in offside position.
- Human role in flagging offside: Officials have made it clear that SAOT is only a confirmatory tool and the final decision always belongs to the match officials.
Accuracy of SAOT
- The data transmission rate from the ball (500 frames per second or 500Hz) makes the process significantly accurate.
- A Precision Time Protocol clock is used to synchronise the data from the ball sensor and Hawk-Eye. The precision is up to one-millionth of a second.
Concerns Associated with the SAOT Technology
- Normal and passive off-side: The technology is not full proof and there will be some subjectivity when judging normal and passive offide.
- In normal offside, a player is flagged because of active involvement irrespective of whether he touches the ball.
- In passive offside, a player is not flagged despite being in an offside position if he does not touch the ball.
- Misuse of tracker data: It is expected that tracker data will be used by coaches for tactical analyses and gauging individual performances.
- SAOT is expected to help statistical thinking and data mining in football.