Tech InDepth: VAR, goal-line technology and other technologies used during the World Cup

If you have been following FIFA World Cup 2022, you know that VAR technology during matches is one of the most important aspects of managing big matches. There are also a number of other technologies in use, such as goal-line technology and semi-automated offiside technology, used in larger, modern football games.

As sports like football pick up the pace, technology has become a part of the sport and in today’s Tech InDepth we look at how VAR and other technological advances work to decide important evaluations in football matches, from calls for offside to to foul tackles.

What is VAR?

VAR stands for Video Assistant Referee, which is equivalent to the third referee in cricket. The VAR is not present on the pitch like the main referee and linesmen, but sits in a room where the VAR has access to multiple camera images and advanced software.

This allows the VAR to revisit key moments where a decision on the spot might be difficult. The multiple camera angles are used with software to slow down footage and answer a call.

The use of VAR has resulted in more fouls and offsides being detected in play than ever before. At the current 2022 World Cup, VAR have been a big part of the big teams that lost games in the group stages, including Argentina vs. Saudi Arabia and Germany vs. Japan.

What is goal-line technology?

As the name suggests, goal-line technology determines whether the ball actually went into the goal. According to the rules of football, at any height below the crossbar, the football must be entirely within the goal line between the two posts.

Before technology came into use, goals like the following were often not awarded because, in fast-paced games, referees were unable to determine if the ball had fully crossed the line. Check out this infamous disallowed goal from a game between England and Germany.

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Goal-line technology, which has been in use for years, is very useful both in international tournaments such as the World Cup and in league games.

What is Semi-Automated Offside Technology?

VAR is neat when it comes to spotting offsides in football but a lot of time is wasted on any VAR check which is also a huge mood killer in the middle of a game as everyone feels the loss of momentum. Both football in general and the fans needed something that could get the job done faster.

Enter semi-automatic Offside technology, a technology powered by a new “limb-tracking” approach. These include a sensor on the ball and special cameras in stadiums that use data to determine if a player is offside.

This data is sent to the control rooms 500 times per second and changes every time a player is flagged for offside.

When a player is caught offside, fans are shown an animated graphic to help show how close the offside was or not. The technology aims to reduce the time it takes to call offside to less than 25 seconds.

The semi-automatic offside technology has been in trials for some time and will be used for the first time at the ongoing Qatar World Cup.


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