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Robot Referees Considered for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

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By Martin Graham | 10th Jun 2022

Robot referees considered for Qatar 2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar might deploy the use of Robots as assistant referees in the upcoming tournament in Qatar, according to the latest information from FIFA.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has previously expressed his desire to improve the quality of officiating in the tournament. In his tenure, wholesale additions such as the goal line technology and the video assistant referees were initiated.

Though this development has brought different reactions all around the world, FIFA has come out to announce another innovation in officiating: robot assistant referees.

This innovation, Infantino states, will not see robots take the place of linesmen and/or fourth officials who announce substitutions and keep time in games.

Their only duties will be to assist the main referees in making offside decisions. The centre referee and his assistants are still very much in charge of the football match according to Infantino.

This move could be seen as counterintuitive seeing that the VAR exists for this reason as well.

Infantino considering a semi-automated offside system

The FIFA president has stated that he has also considered the option of implementing a semi-automated offside system at the World Cup in Qatar. The semi-automated system will enable a homogeneous partnership between the technology and the referees.

This system was tried at the FIFA Club World Cup won by Liverpool earlier this year. The system also was tested in the FIFA Arab Cup held in Doha, Qatar. The technology for the semi-automated offside system operates like a CCTV setup, deploying 10 cameras to carefully observe 29 body points on each player which could be considered offside in games.

The FIFA officials committee used occasions of several training camps to train referees on how to make arbitrary decisions and tight calls on the pitch. The system will come in to assist where human capacity fails.

A World Cup of many firsts

The meeting to deliberate on some of these issues was slated to be held in early March in Zurich, Switzerland. This meeting had to be postponed due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and it will now be held in Qatar.

The world football governing body has also reiterated that it is not shy to push forward these adjustments to the game, as they would no doubt bring positives to the sport.

The World Cup in Qatar will have so many firsts in the tournament’s history. It is already slated to become the first men’s World Cup to have female referees.

The World Cup could also be the first major tournament to have this technology used in it, but it remains to be seen if the footballing community is in tune with FIFA’s lofty dreams and aspirations.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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