AI is powering FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™

The biggest sports tournament in the world is in its final stages as Qatar is on its way to successfully host the FIFA World Cup 2022. Contested by 32 nations around the world and with viewership across every country, this world cup is the most technologically advanced and innovative to date. 

How does Qatar host a massive event like the World Cup, consumed by over 5 billion worldwide viewers

Artificial intelligence might be the power behind the soccer World Cup 2022 in Qatar. From managing fans and players to optimizing energy consumption in modernized stadiums, here’s how AI is integral to the Qatar World Cup’s success. 

AI in soccer 

Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR)

VAR was introduced in 2018 to rule out errors in soccer refereeing. It has been accurate in providing officials with information from the pitch that might affect the game’s flow. VAR reviews in the Qatar World Cup are said to be faster and more reliable with AI. 

Real-time footage from 30+ specialized cameras in the stadium is sent to the video operation room. Intelligent algorithms are used for video analytics to give specific camera angles, slow-motion footage, close-call details, and more to referees. Refereeing is an integral part of any sport and it has risen to new heights in soccer thanks to AI-supported VAR.

Goal Line Technology (Advanced)

Goal line technology is one of the best technological additions to soccer. Initially introduced in 2014, it uses multiple cameras around the stadium at different angles and sensors to determine whether a ball has crossed the line, with up to 5mm accuracy. The number of cameras and image processing in Qatar stadiums has allowed higher accuracy.

During the match between Japan and Spain, the second goal stood as the ball was millimeters in the line. The result of this match was crucial to Germany being eliminated from the world cup tournament before the knockout stages.    

Sensor-infused ball by Adidas 

Remember the debate over whether Cristiano Ronaldo scored the goal against Uruguay? FIFA could conclusively tell there was no contact even when the cameras, referees, or fans could decide due to the latest Adidas soccer balls with sensors. These ultra-web band sensors are highly accurate and advanced compared with similar technologies. 

Whenever the ball is kicked, headed, or moved in any way, the sensor gathers granular movement data at almost 500 frames per second. It then transfers this data to the nearest local positioning system. AI can utilize real-time spatial positioning data collected to provide insights on ball speed and trajectory, as well as coordinate with other VAR and semi-automated offside technologies.

Semi-automated offside technology

Offside rules in soccer were always prone to linesman errors and visual limitations. Semi-automated offside technology is the latest improvement to offside calls from the referees in a game. It uses cameras in the stadium, sensors in the ball, and 29 data points in individual players to make offside decisions accurate and fair. These data points provide a much more rounded positioning of the players and balls which in turn can be transformed into 3D models with the help of AI for the referees to watch and analyze. 

Semi-automated offside technology in FIFA world cup 2022
Representation of Semi-automated offside technology in FIFA world cup 2022

Crowd control and security with ‘connected stadiums’ 

This World Cup will see over 1.5 million fans entering the country from all over the world to enjoy the game. That’s over half the country’s population, and crowd control is a significant challenge. Qatar installed over 15000 new cameras in and around the major stadiums. 

A dedicated tech hub receives data from all cameras. Intelligent algorithms for video analytics then understand the number of people, behavior, movements, and relevant details. In case of any crowd swells or suspicious activities, security officials are alerted in real-time. All eight stadiums are connected through cameras and scanned powerful video analytics intelligent algorithms. This has allowed Qatari security officials to manage and control fan crowds effectively.

Spot cooling battle heat and save energy 

Heat was a primary concern for players and fans in Qatar. This is the first World Cup ever to be held during winter with average temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius. Qatar spent heavily on equipping the stadiums with air conditioning, and AI helped efficiently save energy consumption. 

Spot cooling with sensors detects stands/sections in the stadium with fans, and a cool bubble is created in those areas only. All these, alongside the water management, entry gates, and more, are controlled by the Aspire Command and Control Centre in Doha. More than 100 engineers and technicians work around the clock, assisted by AI systems to monitor and control all operating systems in and around the stadiums where the matches are held. 

AI in world cup predictions

Like every major sporting event, predicting winners, finalists, or results at different stages of the games has been a pastime for fans. Various AI models have factored in several aspects of the players and sports to develop their version of the World prediction. The Alan Turing Institute in London created prediction models and ran over 100000 iterations to predict which teams have the highest chances of winning it all. 

Bottom line 

Artificial intelligence is exceedingly pushing innovation in sports. It has revolutionized scouting and recruiting, introduced assisted decision-making for coaches, and monitored player health with wearable technologies. Allied Market Research predicts the value of AI in sports to reach 19.2 billion by 2030. We’ve only seen a glimpse of how AI can fuel and enhance sporting events like the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. Artificial intelligence and its subsets will continue to power sports like soccer to new heights in years to come.

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