VAR "light" concept taking shape

The FIFA Working Group for Innovation Excellence met on 27 October to coordinate the next steps in the development of VAR technology. Meeting for the fourth time, 13 competition organisers, who are experienced with the use of VAR technology, used a videoconference to discuss the latest developments.

One key topic was the development of the VAR “light” concept, which aims to create more affordable VAR systems to enable the use of VAR at all levels of the game. The working group identified variable cost factors, talked about the potential quality decrease and the minimum requirements for such a technology setup. In addition, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the French Football Association (FFF) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) provided the working group with their findings from offline tests with more cost-efficient VAR technology.

Based on the discussions and the results of research and testing, a recommendation on the next steps to implement the VAR “light” concept in the world of football will now be presented within FIFA and The IFAB.

The agenda also covered the development of semi-automated offside technology to make the review process for offside incidents as efficient as possible. After initial demonstrations of the capabilities of this new technology, three technology providers are interested in the next development phase, which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic but should take place as early as possible next year. The aim of this development phase is to further improve the algorithms of the systems based on a collection of datasets from hundreds of different offside incidents.

In addition, the working group considered the improvement of the visualisation of close offside incidents. FIFA had issued a request for information to the market and shared the received proposals and ideas with the working group. As a next step, interested technology providers will receive anonymised datasets, based on which they should present possible solutions to the working group.

The Working Group for Innovation Excellence embodies the commitment to stay ahead of the curve in a technology sector that is rapidly evolving and part of FIFA’s innovation road map to 2022.