How the 2022 World Cup semi-automatic VAR offside system works

by George Philip
Published: Last Updated on 0 comment
World Cup semi-automatic VAR

The VAR (“Video Assistant Referee” or “video assistant referee”) has gained a reinforcement that will be used in the Qatar World Cup, the semi-automatic offside. FIFA confirmed that it will implement the feature in the tournament in order to reduce the time of analysis of bids during the games and below you can see how the new technology works.

VAR was first used at a World Cup in 2018, in Russia. Since then, the technology has already received several criticisms regarding the time taken for the decision-making of the video assistant referees and, thinking about the solution to this issue, FIFA introduced a new feature to assist in the marking of offsides.

The feature has 12 tracking cameras that can analyze the ball and up to 29 points of each player’s body on the field, including limbs and extremities, which are relevant for analyzing impediments. A sensor installed in the center of the World Cup ball, the Al Rihla will send data 500 times per second to the video room, enabling more accurate detection of the kick point and the contact with the ball at the moment of the pass.

New VAR technology will analyze points on players’ bodies (Image: Reproduction / FIFA)

Assistant referees in the VAR operating room will receive an alert when all of this combined data demonstrates to the artificial intelligence that there is a possible offside condition. It is worth mentioning that the assistants validate the information manually, before passing the decision to the field referee. This should reduce the time spent setting the offside to a few seconds.

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After the decision is confirmed by the field referee, a 3D animation will be generated with images of the offside shot, the lines and the position of the players involved, to be shown on the stadium screens and on a TV broadcast. Will there be more controversy?

How does the impediment work?

The offside is one of the rules of football that causes more difficulty in understanding for those who do not follow the sport assiduously. And also one of the ones that generate the most discussion in conversations and analysis about games.


In general, a player is offside when, at the time a pass is made, any part of his head, body or extremity of the limbs, such as feet, is closer to the opponent’s goal line than the ball and the second-to-last opponent. That is, he can only receive the ball when he has at least two opponents more advanced than him.

The player will not be offside if:

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  • Is behind the line of the ball in relation to the opposing back line, at the moment of the pass;
  • Receiving the ball with at least two opponents closer to the opposing back line;
  • He is in his own half of the field at the time of the pass;
  • Is on the same line as the second to last opponent, in relation to the opponent’s back line;
  • Not participating in the play or not influencing the attack;
  • When an offside is called, the game is stopped and the opposing team must restart the game with an indirect free kick.

When can VAR be triggered?

The VAR will only act in specific situations of the game. Are they:

  • Goal: check if there is an offside in the play, if there was an infraction or penalty if the ball entered the goal or not are examples of VAR action in case of a goal;
  • Penalty: confirmation if the penalty was correctly awarded or if there was an impediment before the penalty kick;
  • Direct red card: confirmation of the correct application of the direct red card or observing a serious foul that can be punished with sending off and has not been observed by the referee on the field;
  • Player identification: correcting the referee in case a penalty is applied to a wrong player;
  • It is important to note that the field umpire has the final decision on any game situation. VAR is an auxiliary resource for refereeing.

Now you know how VAR works and its new features. Will we still have a lot of discussions and controversies or will the semi-automatic offside really help?

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