October 14 – Arsene Wenger, Zurich’s ultimate salesman in his role as FIFA’s development director, believes automated, electronic offside calls can be introduced by the time of the World Cup finals in Qatar.
Wenger, who has been promoting FIFA’s overhaul of the international match calendar with at the heart a biennial World Cup, proposed his latest revolution in the game at a media briefing in the French capital.
Wenger said: “There is a good chance that offside will be automated in 2022. I am obliged to keep the details a secret but it will be the next of the great evolutions in refereeing.”
“In 2022 at the World Cup, we’ll be much better able to make very quick offside decisions. And it will stop the game less because that is what the VAR can be faulted with. There is a real emotional lift, but after that you have to know if you want fair decisions or not.”
In the last decade, the world federation has played a very proactive role in the introduction of technology in the game with the arrival of goal-line technology at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and then the advent of the video assistant refereeing (VAR) at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
FIFA now wants to bring in automated refereeing calls after controversies over hairline VAR decisions in domestic leagues, notably in the Premier League. In June 2020, Zurich said that it was considering “developing semi-automated technology to signal offside, in order to provide the VAR with additional information that would simplify the referee’s decision-making and optimize image analysis.”
However, FIFA’s window to test the new technology is limited. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be played in November and December because of the unbearable summer heat in the Gulf. Next year, FIFA is staging the U-20 World Cup and the U-17 Women’s World Cup.
Before VAR’s roll-out at the 2018 World Cup, the technology was trialled at the 2017 Confederations Cup and in domestic leagues as well.
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