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FIFA Is Introducing AI Referees At The World Cup This Year – And They Will Track Player’s Individual Limbs

The international overlord of soccer-slash-football has said that it’ll be implementing a complex offsides-detecting AI system at the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Assistive technology takes into consideration a huge array of data points. A dozen strategically-placed, AI-connected cameras continuously collect data from 29 specific points on players’ bodies, while a sensor, which sits at the center of the ball, relays its exact location approximately 500 times per second.

The system alerts a control room team if it catches a player offside, who then validates the AI “call” and relays the info back to the on-field refs.

FIFA has used this referee-supporting tech before as well in a controversial video assistant referee (VAR) at the World Cup back in 2018.

The latest version that will be used in the matches is more complicated than before. It has referees handing AI an unprecedented degree of control over the game and, in the competitive and moneyed world of professional sports, it could well be a sign of things to come.

“I know that someone called it ‘robot offside;’ it’s not,” said Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, in a press release. “The referees and the assistant referees are still responsible for the decision on the field of play.”

According to the statement, FIFA believes that the integration will only assist game speed and referee accuracy. Players won’t have to wait around for decisions to be made, and refs will have plenty of extra information with which to make notoriously difficult offsides calls, as FIFA’s trials have already proved.

Also, oft-heckled referees could face less sideline harassment from coaches and fans.

It’ll be thrilling to see how well the technology functions in real-time. It will be a game-changer for FIFA and athletics as AI will be so directly integrated into it.

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