This World Cup is wired and powered by AI

This World Cup is wired and powered by AI


The global sports windfall has begun. Millions are tuning in at home, and more are braving the heat to watch the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar in person.

A host of worries accompany the attention on Doha: fans are likely to complain about the botched calls. Stadium officials hope to minimize crowds. There are overheating issues. Government officials will have public safety at the top of their minds.

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Technology will be part of the answer. Officials rely on sophisticated tools to monitor almost every aspect of games: from footballs being launched to thousands of cameras that track almost every fan and player movement.

Here is an overview of the innovations used.

The official match ball, made by Adidas, will have motion sensors inside. The sensor will report precise location data on the ball 500 times per second, according to the company, helping referees make more accurate calls.

The sensor-filled ball was road tested at several football tournaments leading up to the main event, including the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup, and did not affect player performance, Adidas said. .

The ball will be used in all 64 games of the tournament and will send information back to a data hub, which officials can use to track stats and monitor play.

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A staple of watching any football game is complaining calls.

But in this tournament, officials will try to minimize controversy by using video assistant referees, which use algorithms and data points to help referees on the pitch make accurate calls, FIFA officials said.

The technology was tested at the 2018 World Cup and has been improved for this year’s games.

The system will rely on tracking cameras mounted under the roofs of the stadium to track the sensor-filled ball and up to 29 data points on each player’s body, at 50 times per second, officials added. Fifa.

Data points tracking players’ limbs and ball location will be fed into an artificial intelligence system, helping referees make accurate penalty calls, such as who is offside.

An automated alert will ping match officials in a video ops room, who will then validate the decision before notifying the referee, they said.

The heat was always going to be an issue. Although summer temperatures are not scorching, temperatures in Qatar could become sweltering over the next month.

Officials rely on an advanced cooling system. According to FIFA, it is designed by a Qatari professor, Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, often referred to as “Dr. Cool.” Air is drawn into the stadium’s pipes and vents, cooled, filtered and expelled again. This will create a cool bubble inside the stadium, where sensors will help regulate temperatures, game officials told media.

Using insulation and a technological method called “spot cooling” — which allows cooling to take place only where people are — the stadiums will be kept between 64 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Command and control centers in Qatar will rely on more than 15,000 cameras to track people’s movements throughout the games, Qatari officials told Agence France-Presse in August.

The cameras will be distributed in the eight stadiums. At the Lusail stadium, which hosts more than 80,000 people and where the final match will take place, facial recognition technology will be used to track fans, according to Al Jazeera, which raised privacy concerns.

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In addition, algorithms will be used to try to prevent jostling in the stadium, such as during a football match. in Indonesia last month that killed more than 130 people, news reports say.

The command and control team, according to media reports, will be able to predict crowd patterns using algorithms that draw on multiple data points, including ticket sales and locations where people come in.

The Alan Turing Institute in Britain has created an algorithm to predict which team is most likely to win the World Cup.

Their algorithm is based on a precedent they used called AIrsenal, which they developed in 2018 to play Fantasy Premier League, institute officials said.

They relied on a dataset from GitHub, a computer code sharing and collaboration website, which has tracked the results of every international soccer match since 1872, they said. Their model gave more weight to World Cup matches and recently played matches.

They ran the pattern 100,000 times.

The predictions, according to the institute: Brazil have about a 25% chance of winning; Belgium has about an 18% chance; Argentina arrived with just under 15%.

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