IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 57

game. The system has not been deployed on clay courts,
however, although this appears to be primarily a problem
with calibration rather than conservatism [11].
Both of these systems have managed to drastically
reduce the number of incorrect decisions and have led to
an appreciable decrease in complaints made by cricket
boards (such as The Board of Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI) and The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)),
and tennis players in the event of a questionable decision.
Switching then to football (soccer), it is noticeable
that technology has impacted the game in several ways,
despite considerable resistance from the administrative
authorities. Goal-Line Technology had its inception in
2012, and has helped significantly in deciding whether
a goal has been scored or not, given that the speed of
the game with such small margins can create situations
wherein it becomes nearly impossible to decide definitively that the whole ball has crossed the goal line,
using the naked eye and in "real time." This technology,
like the challenge system in tennis, works effectively
since the condition for "goal" or "no goal" (the entire
ball must cross the line for a goal to be awarded) is precisely defined and binary. Goal-line Technology thus
rules out both false positives and false negatives: there
are incidents of "goals" being awarded when the ball
has not crossed the line, and goals not being awarded
when the ball has crossed the line. Given that the
attraction of football as a sport is that the possibility of
a goal being scored is relatively common, but the actuality of a goal being scored is relatively rare, it is not an
underestimation to say that such mistakes can change
the course of matches, careers, and to some extent culture and even history.4
A recent technological innovation is Video Assistant
Referee (VAR). VAR is a video-based referral system,
which consists of an assistant referee in a remote television studio who uses video replays to help an on site
match referee to make decisions on significant, but
potentially ambiguous, events in the game. This
includes penalties, free-kicks, handball, and offside. It
involves playback of an incident, which serves as an
input for the referee to make a decision. The VAR looks
at all aspects leading up to a goal that might have been
missed, including offside, any offense by the attacking
team in the build-up, and the ball going out of play prior
to goal. The VAR then has two options. The first option
is to inform the referee there has been a factual error
4

As with offside, mistakes can be critical (see footnote 2). For example,
the World Cup Final of 1966 between England and West Germany was
effectively decided by a "goal" which was awarded when, many years later,
the ball was shown to have not crossed the line. However, in the Last-16
match between England and Germany in the 2010 World Cup, England were
denied a "goal" when, at the same time as the incident, television instant
replays showed that the ball had crossed the line [13]. It is not enough to
say that justice evens itself out over time: we might say that justice should
be done, be seen to be done, and at the time it can be done.

DECEMBER 2019

∕

that does not require the referee to review the video.
The second option is to recommend an on-field review
where the VAR advises the referee to rewatch footage
on a pitch-side monitor and reconsider the decision.
Advocates of VAR emphasize decision-support for applying the offside rule, often considered to be as notoriously arcane in football as LBW is in cricket.

Offside Rule in Football
The International Football Association Board (IFAB)
defines the offside rule based on the following specifications.
Offside Position:
A player is in an offside position [14] if:
■ any part of the head, body, or feet is in the opponent's half (excluding the halfway line), and
■ any part of the head, body, or feet is nearer to the
opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
■ The hands and arms of all players, including the
goalkeepers, are not considered.
■ A player is not in an offside position if level with the:
* second-last opponent or
* last two opponents
Offside Offense:
It is not an offense to be in an offside position. A
player in an offside position, at the moment the ball is
played or touched by a teammate, is only penalized on
becoming involved in active play [14] by:
■ interfering with play by playing or touching a ball
passed or touched by a team-mate, or
■ interfering with an opponent by:
* challenging an opponent for the ball, or
* preventing an opponent from playing or being
able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the
opponent's line of vision, or
* clearly attempting to play a ball which is close
when this action impacts on an opponent, or
* making an obvious action which clearly impacts
on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.
■ gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
* rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost,
crossbar, match official, or an opponent, or
* been deliberately saved by any opponent.
A player in an offside position receiving the ball from
an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a
deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have
gained an advantage. A "save" is when a player stops, or
attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to
the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms
(unless the goalkeeper is within the penalty area). An offside offense does not occur if a player receives the ball
from a throw in, goal kick, or corner kick.

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

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IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019

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