The Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) will make its debut next Wednesday in Helsinki in the European Supercup between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt. UEFA this Wednesday announced the application of the new recognition technology for the first title of the season and also for the next edition of the Champions League, the group stage of which starts in the first week of September. “The system is ready for use in official matches and for implementation in all fields of the Champions League,” confirmed UEFA chief referee Roberto Rosetti.
UEFA says it has conducted a total of 188 tests since 2020, including all Champions League matches, both men’s and women’s, and more recently the Women’s Euro Cup, held in England this summer. The system works with 12 tracking cameras that track the ball and 29 points on each player’s body 50 times per second. The 29 data points collected include all limbs and extremities relevant to offside, allowing you to calculate your exact position on the field at any time. In addition, this information can be used to design 3D images that reflect the player’s situation at the precise moment of offside. “This innovative system will allow VAR teams to more quickly and accurately determine offside situations, improving game flow and decision-making consistency,” explains Rosetti.
This urgency to reduce the time taken to take arbitration decisions has been a shared concern of UEFA and FIFA since the introduction of VAR four years ago. Just a month ago, world football’s governing body gave the go-ahead for the use of this technology at the next World Cup, which will be held in Qatar in November. Pierluigi Collina, FIFA’s director of refereeing, pointed out in February that since the introduction of VAR, continuity in the game had been lost and that this new tool would help prevent refereeing decisions from being prolonged. “Technology just gives them valuable support to make more accurate and faster decisions, especially when the offside incident is very close and very difficult,” said the former referee.
In addition to facilitating arbitration decisions, the SAOT system also serves to avoid controversy and argue its decisions in front of viewers. The data collected by the special cameras can be used to create 3D animations that will be broadcast on stadium screens and on television to accurately reflect the game. “By using the exact same data to create a 3D animation for in-stadium and on-air spectators, they get a fast and accurate visualization of the offside situation,” said Sebastian Runge, FIFA Chief Football Technology Officer.