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FIFA’s World Cup technology runs into extra time as tough decisions are made

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Video-assistant refereeing and automated offside technology are on show at the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup

At the end of the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Russia, President Gianni Infantino kicked off a new vision: to harness the full potential of computers in football.

FIFA started working with researchers, football teams and players to bring the latest cutting edge technology into the game.

At this year’s Men’s World Cup in Qatar, video-assistant refereeing (VAR), semi-automated offside technology, and a sensor-filled football have made their mark on the game.

“FIFA is committed to harnessing technology to improve the game of football at all levels, and the use of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA World Cup in 2022 is the clearest possible evidence,” Mr Infantino said.

Australian researchers were part of the partnership to bring this innovation to life in Qatar.

Professor Robert Aughey is from Victoria University, who recently became the first university in the world to become an official FIFA Research Institute for Football Technology.

“It’s speeding the game up in terms of how video-assisted referees are able to operate, and it’s even more accuracy in decisions,” he said.

Professor Robert Aughey collaborated with FIFA on the technology.

Researchers used biomechanics, exercise physiology and data analytics to meet FIFA’s technology brief. The university has previously developed wearable technologies with the Western Bulldogs in the Australian Football League Club.

How does the technology work?

The technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras, which are mounted underneath the roof of Qatari stadiums to track the ball.

Twenty-nine data points are attached to each individual player, which are then tracked 50 times per second.

Together, they calculate a player’s exact position on the pitch and can determine whether they are offside.

“It’s really exciting that we are expanding our collaboration in a much deeper and more meaningful way with one of the biggest brands in the world,” Professor Aughey said.

The official match ball for the Qatar World Cup, known as Al Rihla, also uses real-time sensors.

These devices feed into FIFA’s video operation room at 500 times per second. It means even the most precise movements, or tight offside offences can be detected.

Professor Aughey said his team of researchers filed a 10-page document responding to questions from FIFA, while travelling home from Zurich.

“As researchers, we could be quick, agile and responsive.”

The technology was trialled at several test events and live at FIFA tournaments before the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup.

Does it ever get it wrong?

In the final Group D match at this year’s World Cup, French forward Antoine Griezmann had his goal overturned against Tunisia.

France ultimately lost the game 1-0 because over a VAR review of Griezmann’s goal in the 98th minute of the match.

The goal was controversially ruled out as offside despite defender Montassar Talbi touching the ball before it fell to Griezmann.

The French National Football Team subsequently filed a complaint, after referee Matthew Conger elected to continue play with kick-off.

“We are writing a complaint after Antoine Griezmann’s goal was, in our opinion, wrongly disallowed,” the team said.

Antoine Griezmann’s goal against Tunisia was disallowed.

However, FIFA’s disciplinary committee shut down the claims five days later.

In a statement, the organisation said it had “dismissed the protest submitted by the French Football Association in relation to the Tunisia v. France FIFA World Cup match played on Nov. 30.”

Similarly, a Japanese goal was allowed to stand against Spain despite VAR ruling it had not not crossed the line.

Alternative angles reportedly led to the VAR team’s decision, which showed the whole ball had not been out of play.

Professor Aughey said FIFA has rigorously tested the technology to prove its worth.

“If there’s been some sort of error in the process, perhaps there is recourse there. But I seriously doubt that will actually happen,” he said.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Bombshell pro-Russian video emerges from Australian Open

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A bombshell video has emerged of the father of tennis star Novak Djokovic, amplifying the Russian controversy the Australian Open

 
Djokovic’s father was seen posing for pictures with a group of Putin supporters after his son won against Russia’s Andrey Rublev, to qualify for his 10th semi-final.

Russian flags have been banned from the Australian Open, but that didn’t stop one fan.

A man was seen holding a Russian flag with Putin’s face on it and wearing a t-shirt with the pro-war ‘Z’ symbol on it.

Four spectators were questioned by police and evicted from Melbourne Park.

After losing her semi-final, Belarusian Viktoria Azarenka hit back at media when pressed on tennis’ relationship with Russia’s war on Ukraine.

She told reporters incidents like Novak’s father posing with Russian fans have nothing to do with players.

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Sex noises interrupt BBC FA Cup coverage

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The BBC has been forced to apologise to viewers after its live coverage of the FA Cup was interrupted by sex noises.

The moaning you just heard was played as Gary Lineker presented the third-round replay between Wolves and Liverpool.

BBC is now investigating the incident which appears to be an act of sabotage.

Lineker says a mobile phone was found taped to the back of the set and was responsible for the sex noises.

After the incident, the broadcaster said the sound being made in the studio was so loud it was “quite difficult” to carry on.

But he still saw humour in the incident calling it a “good” prank and questioning why the BBC felt the need to apologise in the first place.

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Russian controversy at the Australian Open

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Russian

Russian flags have been banned from the Australian Open following match controversy

As the Australian Open heats up, organisers have been forced to ban Russian flags from the venue.

It follows the red, white and blue flag being spotted behind fans during a match between a Russian and a Ukrainian.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia condemned the act and called on organisers to take action.

Tennis Australia has since made changes to its tournament regulations.

In a statement, the organisers say they will “continue to work with the players and fans to ensure the best possible environment to enjoy the tennis.”

The ban is effective immediately.

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