FIFA want to introduce the use of robots as assistant referees and plan to implement the new technology in time for the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA’s director of technology Johannes Holzmuller has outlined his plan for the new system which would see assistant referees replaced with computer technology which automatically generates offside lines.
If the lines were crossed an alarm would go off – like goalline technology – and the system would also be able to identify which body part was offside.
It would even take into account the size of a player’s feet.
The first trial of the “robots” has already taken place at December’s Club World Cup in Qatar, won by Liverpool.
“The idea behind the offside technique is to speed up the review of such game situations by the video assistant referee,” Holzmuller explained on German broadcaster ARD, adding: “Basically, it is about the video assistant no longer creating the lines for offside questions to determine a possible offside position.
“The principle is that the system creates the lines automatically and sounds an alarm if there is an offside position.
“That saves time, so the video assistant’s review of game situations could be quicker when it comes to offside.”
The first trial of the “robot” technology took place at last year’s Club World Cup in Qatar.
VAR (Video Assistant Referee), FIFA’s most recent technological introduction, has found itself in the spotlight once again over the last few days after some lengthy and controversial decisions.
Tomas Soucek was denied a goal for West Ham against Chelsea after VAR deemed team-mate Michael Antonio’s head was offside after a review which took several minutes.
It is one of several instances where offside calls have been made by a matter of millimetres and football’s law-making body IFAB (International Football Association Board) has already given the green light for a 10cm ‘tolerance zone’ in major leagues next season.
Concerns about TV cameras not having a sufficient number of frames per picture to make such close calls have been raised, but Holzmuller’s new system aims to end that issue.
“Touching the ball can take less than the time between two frames. There are several milliseconds in between. If you are unlucky, the complete ball contact is not in the picture.
“The aim is that the offside technique is more accurate than the television picture and the exact moment the ball was delivered. Any system has to draw the line at the right place to see if the body parts allowed to score are offside.
“It also has to take into account different lengths of players’ feet. So far, the techniques tested would only have known a kind of average skeleton. The programme still has to learn the differences.’
“The system could only identify if players are in an offside position, so things like ‘passive’ players who are not interfering would still have to be determined by the VAR and referee.
“But with this system, that would be all they would have to look at and it would make their final decision much faster. The final decision would be taken by them – it should always remain that way.”