Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
Fifa plans to introduce an automated electronic offside system at next year’s World Cup finals in Qatar as football slants more to technology than human judgement.
First was goal line technology introduced at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil followed by the video assistant referee (VAR), which came into force at the 2018 World Cup finals in Brazil.
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is now Fifa’s development director and a strong advocate of a biennial World Cup tournament, told a media briefing in Paris, France, that there was a good chance offside was going to be automated at next year’s World Cup finals.
“There is a good chance that offside will be automated in 2022. I am obliged to keep the details secret, but it will be the next of the great evolutions in refereeing,” said Wenger.
The process began under disgraced former Fifa president Sepp Blatter and has accelerated under his successor Gianni Infantino.
Experimentation with automated refereeing has been underway for some time after controversies which arose over hairline decisions following introduction of VAR into domestic competitions.
In June 2020 Fifa announced 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 optimise image analysis.”