Semi-automated offside technology

semi automated offsides

The subjective and contentious process of determining offside fouls has long plagued football adjudication. FIFA always tries to ensure accuracy and equity in football. Nevertheless, a new age has begun with the introduction of semi-automated offside technology. It offers a hopeful combination of human discretion and technical competence. Here you may want to know everything about it. In this article, we will discuss its features, rules, usefulness, and ramifications. 

What is Semi-automated offside technology?

In football, referees use a technique called semi-automated offside technology to help them decide if a player is in an offside position. It is a technology to provide quicker, more repeatable, and more accurate offside rulings. Both the video match officials and the on-field officials utilize semi-automated offside technology. In semi-automated systems, human judgment is combined with technology.  In most cases, this technology makes use of cameras strategically placed around the pitch to monitor the actions of each player in real time. Using the real-time data sent by these cameras. A centralized system can determine where each player is about the ball. While the technology may theoretically identify offside infractions automatically, it instead notifies human officials like the referee or video assistant referees (VARs), who then use the data to make a final determination. 

How does Semi-automated offside technology work?

The new system calculates the precise position of each player on the pitch 50 times per second by using 12 specialized tracking cameras installed beneath the stadium’s roof to follow the ball and up to 29 data points for each player. To determine offside calls, all 29 data points encompass all relevant limbs and extremities.

The Al Rihla, the official match ball of Qatar, will have an inertial measuring unit (IMU) sensor embedded within it, which will be an additional crucial component for the identification of close-offside events. Located in the ball’s middle, this sensor transmits data about the ball 500 times per second to the video operation room, enabling pinpoint kick-point recognition.

When a teammate plays the ball, the new technology automatically notifies the video match officials in the video operation room that an attacker was in an offside position when the ball was played. This is achieved by combining data from both the ball and the player’s limbs and applying artificial intelligence. Before notifying the on-field referee, the video match officials verify the suggested ruling by manually examining the pre-calculated offside line and the automatically chosen kickpoint. It just takes a few seconds for this to happen, which allows for quicker and more precise offside decisions.

Upon the referee’s confirmation of the call on the field, the identical positional data points utilized to arrive at the call are subsequently transformed into a three-dimensional animation. It faithfully depicts the players’ limb positions at the precise instant the ball was played. The biggest screens in the stadium will display this 3D animation, which will always present the greatest possible views for an offside situation. FIFA’s broadcast partners will also have access to it, so all spectators will be informed in the clearest possible way.

How was it tested?

There have been several successful trials of the semi-automated offside technology setup and workflow in both test events and live FIFA competitions, such as the FIFA Club World Cup 2021TM and the FIFA Arab Cup 2021TM.mUsing this new technology, video match officials were able to save time and make offside judgments that were both more precise and easier to reproduce during these matches.


A major step forward has been the implementation of semi-automated offside technology. Even while semi-automated technology provides insights in real-time and is incredibly accurate, human control is still crucial when using it. Maintaining soccer’s core values while taking advantage of technical developments requires a fine balance between tradition and innovation. At the end of the day, semi-automated offside technology is a sign of how far we’ve come as referees. It also shows how serious the authority is about winning every game.


Why does semi-automated offside technology require less time for a decision to be made?

It takes an average of 70 seconds for the VAR to check for offside on a global scale.

Using semi-automated offside technology, the video match officials no longer need to manually draw the offside line and choose the correct kick point. All they need to do is visually check the offside line and kick point, which are automatically generated based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs, to validate the proposed decision. It just takes a few seconds for this to happen, which allows for quicker and more precise decisions on offside calls. On the other hand, a more comprehensive assessment may be necessary in cases of complicated occurrences or simultaneous occurrences of numerous episodes.

What happens if the video match officials do not agree with the proposed kickpoint and/or offside line?

The video match officials have the option to manually choose the kickoff location and utilize the existing tools. It helps to draw the offside line if they are not satisfied with the system’s proposed settings.

Can semi-automated offside technology support the video match officials in all offside decisions?

When a teammate plays the ball and an attacker who was offside at the time receives possession of it, the new technology can help the video match referees determine if the player is offside. There has been no change to the decision-making process and the referee is still left to use their discretion for any other offside instances, such as interfering with an opponent.