The Premier League will introduce semi-automated offside technology (SOAT) from next season, a move that could change the way the video assistant referee (VAR) system is used.
According to the Times, which reports that the English top flight will follow attempts by FIFA and UEFA to make offside decisions more accurately and quickly by implementing their own version of SOAT in time for the 2023/24 season.
SOAT made their Champions League debut last week and failed to give their first goal when Rasmus Falk’s later consolation for FC Kobenhavn at Borussia Dortmund was ruled out after initially being allowed on the pitch by the referee team.
The system uses a series of cameras installed under the roof of a stadium, which then track 29 points on the bodies of all 22 players. The cameras will detect when a player is offside and immediately alert the observing VAR.
The VAR then views the footage, determines whether the player who is offside in the SOAT system can be considered active and then communicates the decision to the on-field referee, who will announce the result to the players and the audience signals.
The system remains semi-automated as the VAR must decide exactly when the ball was played and whether an attacker was active or inactive, leaving an element of subjectivity and the possibility of human error.
For viewers at home, the system plays out with a 3D animation on screen showing exactly which part of the attacking player’s body was offside.
A source who tells the Times that they are aware of the Hawkeye system used by UEFA said: “The alerts are instantaneous so the decision will be made as soon as the VAR has checked it.
“We see that in the semi-automated system, decisions are made within the time of the natural breaks for celebration after a goal, rather than the players waiting several minutes.”
VAR was first implemented in the Premier League in 2019/20 after an attempt at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in Russia, but its use has not reduced the controversy surrounding decision-making in the top flight each weekend.
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