Wenger says automated VAR offsides could be in place by Qatar 2022

April 12 – Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s chief of global football development since 2019, says the game would be considerably improved if marginal offside calls are decided automatically and hopes it will happen in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, using Artificial Intelligence to make instant decisions.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that oversees football’s laws, said last month it planning to test semi-automated decision-making technology which would end tedious delays to VAR offside decisions that have caused such irritation throughout the season for fans, players and coaches alike.

“At the moment we have situations where the players’ positions have lines drawn to see if they are offside or not,’ Wenger told FIFA’s Living Football show.

“The average time we have to wait for a decision is around 70 seconds, sometimes 1min 20secs, sometimes a little bit longer. But with this system, there is an automatic signal goes to the linesman, via a watch he wears with a red light to tell him if it is offside or not.

“I’m pushing very hard to have automated offsides, which means straight away the signal goes to the linesman and I think it will be ready for 2022.”

The former Arsenal boss feels VAR offside calls have erased the benefit of the doubt that strikers used to have and wants to redress that balance.

“We want to make the game more spectacular, quicker and more enjoyable to watch and play,” Wenger said. “We cannot refuse to evolve and standing still would be bad.

“Previously if the striker was a tiny fraction in front, the goal would be allowed. But with VAR the benefit of doubt disappeared because the precision of VAR always goes against the striker.”

“We think it is anti-emotion. Our proposal is that as long as any part of your body is level with the defender you are not offside, so the attacker gains a whole stride, approximately.”

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