Chelsea will be the first Premier League club to trial FIFA’s new ‘robot referee’ technology at the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
The new limb-tracking technology aims to make automatic offside decisions within half a second, ending the long delays associated with video assistant referees (VAR).
FIFA hope to fully implement the technology in time for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in November, after a ‘successful’ trial at the recent Arab Cup.
The Club World Cup, which begins on Thursday, will also be used as a test event, with Chelsea becoming the first British club to sample the technology.
The semi-automatic decision-making system uses up to 12 cameras in the roof of the stadium to capture the movement of all the players and the ball.
The technology creates an animated skeleton of the players through 29 data points, which can be accessed 50 times per second to make a correct offside call.
If a player is in an offside position, the tracking system alerts the VAR operator within half a second.
FIFA’s football technology and innovation director Johannes Holzmuller explained: “When the ball is played, the real-time AI software can send a signal automatically to the VAR.
“We will have a committed assistant VAR who can process the offside data and help determine if the player deemed to be offside was active and interfering with play, so they can swiftly validate and confirm the decision.”
Holzmuller added: “We strongly believe that access to this new data source can positively impact the game by optimising decision-making processes and increasing objectivity.
“However, we are only at the beginning of this development journey and possible use cases need to be tested thoroughly to assess the capabilities with a view to eventual implementation.”
Chelsea’s first match at the Club World Cup will be against Tahiti’s AS Pirae, Al Jazira from Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on February 9.
Should they win their semi-final, Thomas Tuchel’s side will likely face Brazil’s Copa Libertadores champions Palmeiras in the final on February 12.
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