The Premier League’s use of semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) will be evaluated in the coming months before a final decision is made on its use next season.
During the FIFA Club World Cup this month [December 2023] in Saudi Arabia, improvements to the current semi-automated technology will be tested for the first time.
SAOT works by generating a virtual line that identifies data points from the players’ bodies, such as heads, toes, upper arms and knees.
The European Champions League, Serie A and the most recent Women’s and Men’s World Cups have all been moderated using the technology, among other competitions.
Serie A began using the SAOT system in January 2023, with La Liga set to begin using the tech from next season, according to the Spanish football federation. Spanish referees requested that the use of VAR be boosted by SAOT after an error during a video review mistake in a match between Cádiz and Elche.
The automated system is capable of monitoring multiple players concurrently, with its ball-tracking function communicating with the video assistant referee (VAR) through a real-time notification system.
The use of the VAR in conjunction with SAOT affords it the designation ‘semi-automated’, as the former is still needed to validate the decision before a human referee is alerted.
FIFA’s SAOT used during the World Cups includes a chip implanted into the ball, but this technology is not used for Champions League matches. Both UEFA and Adidas plan to use an upgraded version of this in-built technology at next year’s Euros.
At the 2023 International Football Association Board (IFAB) annual business meeting, Mark Bullingham, CEO of the FA, expressed his support for SAOT, but turned to the sovereignty of individual leagues on deciding whether or not to use the technology.
He commented: “Where you’ve got a binary decision, I think to make it as quickly and accurately as possible is the way to go. There is an expectation that more top leagues around the world will bring it in from next season.”
It is not yet known if the Premier League would use a chipped ball if the use of SAOT is approved.
German firm Kinexon, which designed the FIFA-approved ball tracking technology, has said that its ball sensors can be integrated into every kind of ball.
Criticisms of the use of VAR without support from SAOT have re-surfaced after several recorded errors during Premier League games.
Currently, ongoing controversies in the English Premier League have led for calls from fans, players and clubs, for SAOT to be implemented in the league.
Recently, Liverpool player Luis Diaz spoke out about the “significant human error” involved in the officiation process, which saw his goal for Liverpool against Tottenham Hotspur wrongfully disallowed.
After scoring, the Columbian left winger’s goal was flagged as offside, with the VAR then being consulted to double check.
In response, however, VAR official Darren England and assistant Dan Cook refused to inform the on-field referee that the goal was onside, leading to a failure to reverse the initial offside decision.
Had the goal been allowed, Liverpool would have been 1-0 up in a game that resulted in a 2-1 loss against Tottenham.
The latest developments in robotics and automated technologies for materials handling will be on show at the Robotics and Automation Exhibition on 19-20 March 2024 at the NEC Birmingham. Register now to attend the UK’s biggest exhibition dedicated to robotics and automation, which is co-located with Britain’s biggest warehousing show, IntraLogisteX!