FIFA to Use Artificial Intelligence Player Tracking at 2022 World Cup￼
After Video-Assistant Referee (VAR) technology was successfully used at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the organization decided to “harness the full potential of technology in football and further enhance VAR.”
During the soccer game, 12 dedicated tracking cameras will be mounted to the underside of the stadium’s roof to track the ball and up to 29 data points on each player to determine if the player is offsides, which “is when any part of the player’s body is closer to the opposing team’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last opposing player, with the last usually being the goalie.” The cameras capture data 50 times per second.
In addition, the official adidas match ball for Qatar 2022, Al Rihla Pro, is fitted with a sensor at its center. That sensor will send data 500 times per second to provide the kick point to referees.
FIFA stated, “By combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a team-mate. Before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials validate the proposed decision by manually checking the automatically selected kick point and the automatically created offside line, which is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. This process happens within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.”
Once the video match officials and referee on the pitch confirm the decision, a 3D animation from the data points used to make the decision is created. That animation will be shown to fans on the giant screens in the stadium and via broadcast partners.
AI is not the only cutting-edge technology being employed in Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. Seven of eight stadiums will be cooled by solar technology to 69.8°F/21°C. “Dr. Cool,” Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, professor of engineering at Qatar University, developed the system over 13 years to ensure it was more sustainable than existing cooling systems for a games FIFA states will be carbon neutral.
- Should FIFA (or other sports organizations) use AI to track players’ movements? Explain your answer(s).
- How could AI be used in other sports? Or at other levels of sports (professional, college, little league, etc.)? What advantages and disadvantages would using AI present? Explain your answer(s).
- As global temperatures become more extreme, is cooling outdoor sporting events a good solution? Explain your answer(s).
1. FIFA, “Semi-Automated Offside Technology to Be Used at FIFA World Cup 2022,” fifa.com, July 1, 2022
2. Passant Rabie, “FIFA Will Use AI to Track Players’ Bodies During World Cup,” gizmodo.com, July 5, 2022
3. The National, “Qatar’s ‘Dr Cool’ Keeping World Cup Stadiums Chilly with Solar-Powered AC – in Pictures,” thenationalnews.com, May 20, 2022