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FIFA World Cup 2022 to get AI refs and a ball that helps VAR decisions

Real-life refs getting much-needed help at this year's World Cup

FIFA World Cup 2022 to get AI refs and a ball that helps VAR decisions

The FIFA World Cup 2022 was always going to be a strange one, with the tournament taking place in Winter and matches played at night, but now it's been revealed that the offside rule will be determined by AI - and the new Adidas match ball is VAR's best friend.

FIFA has revealed that it will be using AI to help with offside decisions at FIFA World Cup 2022. In a new report it revealed that "semi-automated offside technology will be used in Qatar, offering a support tool for the video match officials and the on-field officials to help them make faster, more accurate and more reproducible offside decisions on the biggest stage of all."

While this doesn't mean that the ref can sit back with a cuppa, it should mean that tight offside decisions are a thing of the past - and the refs can point at their Terminator overlords when a player gets angry about a decision.

"The new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch. The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls," reckons FIFA.

Connected ball

If that wasn't enough technology for you, the new FIFA World Cup 2022 Adidas ball is also packed with technology.

According to Adidas, the Al Rihla match ball "will feature new connected ball technology, which will be used to enhance the VAR system by providing an unprecedented level of data and information to match officials for making faster and more accurate decisions."

Since VAR was introduced in 2018 at the Russia World Cup, it has been a controversial system that hasn't sat that well with the way football is played. In short: many of us have gone over the top in our celebrations of a goal, only for VAR to discount it and leaving us a little red faced.

The new match ball should stop the pain of this, with Adidas reckoning that "it will help inform offside situations as well as assist in detecting unclear touches thereby ultimately improving the quality and speed of VAR decision-making process."

If you are worried that having a sensor in the ball will change the way it reacts when kicked, then Adidas assures that the "new Adidas Suspension System in the center of the ball hosts and stabilizes a 500Hz inertial measurement unit (IMU) motion sensor, which provides unprecedented insight into every element of the movement of the ball, while making this technology unnoticeable for players and not affecting its performance whatsoever."

Or, as Jesse Pinkman would say: "Yeah science, bitch."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is taking place in Qatar 21 November-18 December.