A VAR review in progress during the Russia 2018 World Cup. Image Credit: AFP file

Dubai: Fifa, world football’s governing body, is looking at a future where match officials can arrive at technology-assisted real-time decisions without stopping play.

Johannes Holzmuller, head of Football Technology Innovation Department at Fifa, said that recent innovations such as the use of goal-line technology and Video Assistant Referee (VAR) are meant to help football rather than mar its image.

“It is very important, in the first place, to understand what technology and how technology can help football. The idea at the moment is that we provide additional information to the referees (and to the coaches and medical staff as well) so that they can take real-time decisions based on the information. Of course, what we provide is just a supportive tool in the officials arriving at a decision as quickly as possible,” Holzmuller told Gulf News on the sidelines of the two-day Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Sports (DAIS) held at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“We are testing a lot of new technology in the background to find out how we can further improve the set-up we had at the last two World Cups in Russia and France. All technology at the moment is being directed to further help the VARs and the officials on the pitch while giving them all the information so that everyone can have a faster review and come to a faster decision-making process,” he added.

Innovations such as goal-line technology and VAR have polarised views with some critics backing such use as it has the ability to improve the game. On the other hand, there are critics who insist that such changes are a disaster where the beautiful game is being spoilt from an aesthetic point of view.

“We need to have a better quality of information where in the end we can provide to the referees, the coaches and medical staff the best access to all levels of information to better our sport. What we have to focus now is to connect all these technologies from the past into one consolidated forum. The data that we are collecting needs to be combined and connected with stats and AI can help improve this further. What we should never forget is that the coaches, the referees, the people attending in the stadium or watching at home need real-time information, and that’s exactly what we are working on,” he related.

“But then at the same time, there are always going to be mistakes and errors merely because humans are involved in coming to a decision. Technology is there in football to help and assist all those involved to have that additional information to assist in their decision-making process in the end,” Holzmuller insisted.