For its tournaments, particularly the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, FIFA intends to use video assistant refereeing systems, subject to approval by The International Football Association Board (The IFAB) in March 2018. In the course of the trials with video assistant referees (VARs), it became clear how important a fully integrated referee communication system is to the project. 

FIFA calls for providers to offer an all-in-one solution for communication systems that enables the pitch referees to communicate among themselves and with the VARs in a remote location.

Project
The referee communication system consists of three core components: the units used by the referees on the pitch, the headsets used by the referees and the system used by VARs. For the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, the VARs will be located in a centralised video operations room in Moscow connected via fibre network (provided by FIFA) for all 64 matches. The selected provider is expected to provide all components of the system. For clarification, three (3) main officials require open-mic on-field communication devices; the fourth official (1) standing in the technical area in the stadium should have push-to-talk options and a minimum of seven (7) headsets for VARs and VAR operators in a remote location, of which two (2) need push-to-talk capability – all communicating on the same channel. 

Process
Providers should present their solution to FIFA as per the timeline below. Part of the tender process will be a validation phase of the offered solutions in order to assess the quality and reliability of the system presented. It is imperative that a working product (no prototypes or products in development) be demonstrated in a live scenario in the course of this demonstration. The exact location and event will be closely coordinated between the provider and FIFA. If successful in the first phase, the provider should be available and capable of delivering its system for live testing during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017.

Technical specifications 
For the match officials in the stadium, a portable wireless receiver unit and headset with the following minimum requirements are required:

Radio units (pitch) must:

  • be weather-resistant (minimum IP67-rated) and extremely durable
  • be compact and easily clipped or inserted in various positions (arm, small of the back, waistband, etc.)
  • include a robust headset connection that is impervious to dirt or liquid. Wireless solutions are not acceptable
  • Include noise cancelling to allow for clear communication on the field and with the VARs in extremely loud conditions
  • include a way of easily switching between frequencies/bands to enable use in various countries throughout the world (pre-match set-up)
  • include robust encryption to prevent interference with and interception of communications between match officials
  • volume control 

Headsets (pitch) must:

  • be weather-resistant (minimum IP67-rated) and extremely durable
  • be light, and comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and in all kinds of weather situations
  • allow for the use of custom-moulded ear inserts owned by the referees
  • include the ability to add push-to-talk (default should always be an open mic)

For the remotely operating VARs and VAR operators, communication devices must: 

  • include noise-cancelling headsets
  • allow assignment of different roles (e.g. listening and speaking)
  • include push-to-talk
  • include visual confirmation, for example a light, when the VAR communicates with the referee
  • be able to record audio feeds and make them available to the VAR technology provider post-match

Any alternative solutions that do not consist of the above elements may be presented but, given the short timelines, they are very unlikely to be implemented.

Timeline

Phase 1

Deliverable

Until 06.10.2017

Expression of interest and presentation of solutions

Until 31.10.2017

Assessment in a live environment to be agreed on between the provider and FIFA. Validation of technology in use

Until 06.11.2017

Creation of a shortlist and fine-tuning of requirements for phase 2

 

Phase 2

Deliverable

Until 13.11.2017

Provision of detailed proposal for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

06.-16.12.2017

Final test of selected solution(s) in the live environment during the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2017 and assessment of performance

Until 28.02.2018

Selection of provider for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

Companies wishing to present a solution should contact technology@fifa.org.