Although the offside trap is often misused by referees and players alike, FIFA is trying to see how it could be improved further.
On Monday, the world’s governing body for soccer announced a joint project by its soccer research and development division and Fördrint Software with AI technology startup Future RoboFrontiers, to tackle the issue. The main objective is to get more accurate and reliable descriptions of offside decisions.
Specifically, FIFA is looking for an AI system that uses video replay to classify the positioning of a player during a game and then suggest if he or she should be awarded a free kick or goal kick from the goalkeeper. Right now, video replay is only used to decide if a player was offside or not.
Although there’s no concrete timeline or exact cost estimate on this initiative, FIFA’s detailsheet says that the purpose is to “create a robust video replay solution to use in future UEFA’s UEFA EURO 2024 tournaments.”
As you may know, video replay has already been implemented for many soccer tournaments. In the 2016 UEFA Champions League, officials employed this technology to refer to footage that would confirm if a play was onside. FIFA is eager to use the technology to make more accurate offside calls in future FIFA World Cups.
Future RoboFrontiers co-founder David Groves claimed that the idea is to create the “ultimate automated offside decision process for all kinds of competitions, and we hope we will have some data in time to utilize for competitions like the UEFA European Championships.” The Fördrint-linked company already offers a mobile game called Football Detection that lets you pick out offside players based on a given data stream, and at the moment it’s only compatible with iOS devices.
Bonus: in the upcoming FIFA World Cup Russia 2022, fans won’t have to worry about facial recognition if a team tries to fake their own players by mimicking their appearance. That’s because the Chinese government is working on a facial recognition solution that turns fans into 3D readers.
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