How does the VAR semi-automatic offside work?

The video arbitration system, better known as VAR, was implemented in 2018 in The league. Since then, novelties have been introduced to perfect a technology that wants to put an end to debates with scientific methods. The next novelty that will come to the Spanish competition is the semi-automatic offside. Coinciding with the controversy generated by Asensio’s disallowed goal in the last clásico, the RFEF has announced this week that this technology will be applied next year if the LaLiga clubs agree. And they are.

It has not been a matter of cause and effect, since the bidding for a new contest was already planned. During the last four years, Hawk-Eye has been the supplier of all Spanish competitions, after being the winner of the contest launched in 2018 for four seasons. With a view to the next academic year, both the RFEF like LaLiga were interested in having the semi-automatic offside technology.

As reported by the entity chaired by Luis Rubiales, “its implementation will depend on the request of the majority of the First and/or Second Division entities.” “In the RFEFboth in the Spain Supercup As in the Copa del Rey final, this system is already used. It was offered to LaLiga from the outset and it is the clubs and LaLiga who have to ask us for it. As requested, it will be implemented,” Rubiales said this week.

How does semi-automatic offside work?

But how does semi-automatic offside work? Is it a technology that improves VAR line drawing? According to the account Mr. Asubíospecialized in refereeing issues, “semi-automated offside detection technology, also known as SAOT, is a tool that will help video refereeing teams and referees on the ground to make faster, more reliable and more accurate decisions“.

The semi-automatic fuero de juego works with twelve cameras that are installed under the roof of the stadium. The devices capture the movements of the ball and up to 29 data points from each player, 50 times per second. This is how they calculate their exact positions on the pitch. The 29 data sets collected include the limbs and parts of the body that are used to signal an illegal position.

In addition to the cameras, there are other elements that help the operation of the semi-automatic offside. It is the case of the ball. In it Qatar World Cup the ‘Al-Rihla’ was used, manufactured by Adidas, which inside has a decisive element for the detection of illegal positions which are dubious: it is the inertial measurement unit (IMU).

Do the referees intervene in the semi-automatic offside?

“This sensor, located in the center of the ball, sent a data packet 500 times per second to the video room, which makes it possible to detect with absolute precision the exact moment in which the ball is hit. With the mixture of data from tracking of the limbs of the players and the ball, and through artificial intelligencethe technology provides an automatic warning to the video room whenever an attacker in an illegal position receives a ball at the moment in which his partner played the ball”, clarifies the expert referee.

But behind the technical procedures, there is still human intervention. Before reporting to the head referee, the video collegiate team manually checks the exact moment of the hit that has provided the data, as well as the automatically created offside line, based on the player’s limbs.

How long does it take to declare the semi-automatic offside?

The process lasts a few seconds in order to make quick and accurate decisions. Once the match judge confirms the decision, with these same data a three-dimensional animation is generated detailing the position of the player’s body parts at the moment of contact with the ball. This animation is what the viewers receive.

Semi-automatic offside technology is faster than current VAR line drawing, where it takes 70 seconds on average. “In the case of complex situations or when several incidents occur at the same time, the situation may need to be further reviewed“adds the former national category referee, who raises a series of questions.

What happens if the refereeing team does not agree with the exact moment of the kick or the offside line proposed by the system? They can manually select the instant and use the tools that exist to plot the illegal position. However, in the cases in which the semi-automatic offside can operate, the system “is the most accurate of those that exist, especially when the situations to analyze are due to a shoulder or upper arm“.

Who will provide the service?

Technologically, almost everything is certain with the semi-automatic offside. The doubts reside in which company will provide the serviceas well as the rest of those linked to the video arbitration system, which will also be applied in the F League starting next season if the clubs in the women’s competition so request.

Mediapro was the first company to be in charge of VAR in Spanish football, during the 2018/19 season, in which the system made its debut in both LaLiga and the Copa del Rey, following a contract agreed upon at the time when Juan Luis Larrea was interim president of the RFEF , after the disqualification of Ángel María Villar.

Luis Rubiales, in his policy for the RFEF to recover powers that Villar had delegated to LaLiga, decided to launch a new VAR contest upon reaching the federation presidency. It was won by Hawk-Eye, provider of many international competitions, although with a great controversy that ended up in court, when Mediapro denounced that it had been de facto excluded from the contest, due to the fact that the bases privileged, in their opinion, the final winner, despite the fact that his offer was cheaper. A year ago, a court ruled in first instance that the RFEF had to compensate Mediapro with 2.1 million euros for this matter. Now the counter is reset to zero.

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