The VAR system is truly revolutionary, and introducing it to the world of sports is without a doubt a great decision. However, it is not reliable in all respects.
The video validation feature has been in widespread use since 2018, and it allows referees to make decisions based on the frequency of plays. In this way, the referee – with the support of an ‘outside’ teammate – can see if the action involves a foul, by hand touching the ball, and even if the selected player is offside.
And although, according to some, VAR technology kills the spirit of the game and even unnecessarily lengthens matches, there have also been studies that indicate that thanks to this solution, the number of offenses and yellow cards is reduced. Undoubtedly, the great advantage of this system is also the possibility of checking controversial actions, thanks to which the overall fairness of matches increases.
Pouya Sultani of the University of Bath led the VAR offside assessment team. Unfortunately, it’s not rosy here. The cameras were recording the player receiving the ball from a teammate who was observed from different angles using equipment such as Motion capture. At the same time, the system monitored the behavior of the ball and other players. The trial participants then had to rate the situations in which the flag should be raised and indicate the moment of administration.
VAR technology helps, but humans are not infallible
Soltani and colleagues found that, on average, participants chose to advance 132 milliseconds later than they actually did. They were the best at making judgments when the action was viewed at 0 and 90 degrees and virtual lines were applied to the “grass” (in this case, recording studios) to determine offside. According to the researchers, VAR resolution can be improved by using cameras that record at higher frame rates.
In addition, the scientists suggest that the virtual lines should be thicker, in order to remove the need to look for “millimeter” burns. The key to improving posture can be to increase the available angles through which actions are checked.
At the same time, it is worth bearing in mind that the possibility of multi-assessment of a given situation is more fair for the players than the one in which the side referee has to make a binding decision in a split second. Besides, people nowadays still have an influence on judgments. Controversy can arise if AI has to choose from start to finish. Such a solution is also planned.
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