FIFA Gets VAR to Handle Hand of God

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Champions League, Premier League, FIFA… the excitement is endless with football. And along with it come packaged infamous incidents such as controversial goals such as the Hand of God. With the FIFA World Cup 2018 round the corner, the FIFA council has enhanced its fairplay technology a step… (Featured image is for representational purpose and has been sourced from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Match_Analysis_Portable_K2_Panoramic_Video_Camera_System.jpg)

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Champions League, Premier League, FIFA… the excitement is endless with football. And along with it come packaged infamous incidents such as controversial goals such as the Hand of God. With the FIFA World Cup 2018 round the corner, the FIFA council has enhanced its fairplay technology a step further with Video Assistant Referees (VAR) technology. VAR is expected to make referee decisions less controversial and reduce human error within the game. (More interesting details in our previous blog post — Technology Powers Offside Refereeing in Football)

VAR technology is used for four main game changing incidents:

  1. It can assist referees to determine whether there was an infringement leading to a goal, that means the goal should be disallowed.
  2. It ensures that no clearly wrong decisions are made in conjunction with the award or non-award of a penalty kick.
  3. It helps determine correct decisions in conjunction with sending off or not sending off a player.
  4. If the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player, or is unsure which player should be sanctioned, the VAR provides data to help the referee decide.

The VAR team consists of the video assistant referee (VAR) and his three assistant video assistant referees (AVAR1, AVAR2, and AVAR3). All video assistant referee team members are said to include senior FIFA match officials. (You may also like reading Soccer scores over Cricket in Patent Bank)

Four replay operators select and provide the best camera angles. Two of them pre-select the most likely camera angles and the other two provide final angles chosen by the VAR and the AVAR2 for each checked or reviewed incident.

The video assistant referee team has access to 33 broadcast cameras, eight of which are super slow-motion and six of which are ultra-slow-motion cameras. In addition, the team can also access two offside cameras. These two cameras are only available to the video assistant referee team.

Schematics of the positioning of different cameras on a football field for implementation of VAR system

Xi’an Sports Institute has a patent CN 102819749 B related to this technology and titled “One kind offside automatic identification system and method based on analysis of soccer video.” Granted in 2016, the patent describes methods and systems for automatically determining the offside in football through video analysis of video images. The video images extract football field, characteristic pitch lines and detect football players. The system uses player coordinates along with the pitch plane coordinates for determining whether a player is in an offside position at a given instance of time.

A couple of years ago, a co-blogger penned an article on World Cricket Pumps Up with Fair Play Technology. VAR technology enables referees with a second chance to look at a passage of play before deciding on the appropriate course of action for a particular incident during the game. However, it faces major challenges in terms of time-period required to make a decision related to an incident and without affecting the flow of the game. Whether VAR will help reduce controversies or will it become a controversy in itself remains to be seen. But for now, fairplay technology is sure making headway in the world of sports.

(Featured image is for representational purpose and has been sourced from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Match_Analysis_Portable_K2_Panoramic_Video_Camera_System.jpg)

Kushagra Magoon
Kushagra Magoon

High speed and adventure keep his adrenaline pumping. A national level speed skater and a football fanatic, Kushagra likes to read about latest technologies and has a curiosity to explore the information that does not meet the eye.


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