Insight

On the right lines

How new technology in the VAR room is making offside calls quicker and more accurate

WORDS Dan Poole

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

Read the full story
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Via these cameras, the software can pick out 29 body parts of each player 50 times per second, as well as recording their coordinates. Thanks to this information (it adds up to 36,300 data points per second), SAOT can triangulate the exact position of the ball and the players on the pitch at any one moment. This, along with the use of artificial intelligence, results in automated offside alerts for the video match officials. They then look at the virtual lines to decide if they concur with the decision, checking the proposed kick point – as in, the exact moment when the ball was passed – and the players’ involvement in the action; if they are happy, they can then inform the on-field referee.

The 3D image can be shared with TV audiences once a decision has been made, and also helps speed up the process, as UEFA Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti explains: “Identifying the correct line position by working from a two-dimensional image is very complex.” Rosetti is also pretty clear on the overarching benefits of SAOT, saying that it’s “for the good of the game and the good of refereeing”. But, alas, no use when it comes to time travel.

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

On the right lines
Insight

On the right lines

How new technology in the VAR room is making offside calls quicker and more accurate

WORDS Dan Poole

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

Via these cameras, the software can pick out 29 body parts of each player 50 times per second, as well as recording their coordinates. Thanks to this information (it adds up to 36,300 data points per second), SAOT can triangulate the exact position of the ball and the players on the pitch at any one moment. This, along with the use of artificial intelligence, results in automated offside alerts for the video match officials. They then look at the virtual lines to decide if they concur with the decision, checking the proposed kick point – as in, the exact moment when the ball was passed – and the players’ involvement in the action; if they are happy, they can then inform the on-field referee.

The 3D image can be shared with TV audiences once a decision has been made, and also helps speed up the process, as UEFA Referees Committee chairman Roberto Rosetti explains: “Identifying the correct line position by working from a two-dimensional image is very complex.” Rosetti is also pretty clear on the overarching benefits of SAOT, saying that it’s “for the good of the game and the good of refereeing”. But, alas, no use when it comes to time travel.

At first glance, it might look like technology has advanced to the point that Champions League footballers are now able to cross space and time, navigating portals that grant them access to faraway dimensions. Then you realise that the TV graphics in question herald a slightly different progression – and one rather less likely to feature in Eighties TV show Quantum Leap. 

For this is Semi-Automated Offside Technology, or SAOT to its friends. It stands to gain quite a few of the latter, thanks to its ability to significantly speed up the VAR decision-making process. By way of an example, when it was used in the Champions League for the first two matchdays of the group stage, the VAR team was an average of 52 seconds quicker to reach a decision than it was for the Europa League, where it isn’t currently being used.

UEFA and FIFA (the World Cup will also feature SAOT) have been carrying out tests on the new system for the past three years; UEFA alone tried it out behind the scenes in 180 matches last season, before introducing it in the Champions League proper this season. To make SAOT possible, ten specialised cameras are placed underneath the roof of a stadium. They are positioned to be able to cover the full pitch, as a minimum of two cameras need to be able to record each player (and the ball) at all times for the system to work. Their configuration also ensures that if one camera happens to experience a technical failure, the other nine can pick up the slack.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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