Innovation Road Map

After the successful implementation of the video assistant referee (VAR) system following its incorporation into the Laws of the Game in March 2018, FIFA would like to further improve VAR technology at all levels of the game. 

Consultation process and key principles

In order to garner important feedback on the use of the new technology in competitions worldwide and to learn more about the possible areas for improvement, FIFA organised a consultative VAR technology workshop in September 2019 in Zurich, which was attended by representatives from over 20 competition organisers, the FIFA Refereeing Subdivision and The IFAB. During this consultation process, the group identified three key principles for the future development of VAR technology:

  • continued development of additional and more accurate information to assist the decision making process;

  • making the review process as efficient as possible; and

  • making VAR technology more affordable to enable competitions with more limited budgets to use the technology.

Objectives and priorities

Based on these principles, the group agreed on three high-priority objectives and two of lower priority for the next development phase for VAR technology, to run up until 2022. In the discussion with the competition organisers, it became obvious that artificial intelligence will play an important role to achieve these objectives and therefore new technologies, such as limb tracking and automated TV production, could potentially support the development of VAR technology at all levels of the game.


Innovation road map and reporting

With the main focus on the three top priorities for the future development of VAR technology, the FIFA Club World Cup 2019™ served as the first official testing event for the innovation road map with a view to 2022. For 2020, additional testing events will be identified in close collaboration with supporting competition organisers in order that new and existing technologies can be tested and developed further. A summary of the results of the testing events, as well as a proposal for the testing in 2021, will be presented at The IFAB’s Annual Business Meeting at the end of 2020 and subsequently shared with all competitions that are using VAR or are interested in the subject.

Collaboration with competition organisers

FIFA would like to collaborate with competition organisers that are interested in being directly involved in the development process for the next generation of VAR technology. The participating competition organisers and FIFA created the FIFA Working Group for Innovation Excellence and the development of “VAR technology 2.0” is this group’s pilot project, with clear objectives to be attained by 2022. The aims of this platform are to discuss and coordinate the next development steps, exchange experiences and explore new ideas. FIFA signed a memorandum of understanding with each member of the group, confirming the parties’ intention to work closely and transparently together in order to achieve the identified objectives in due time.

Who is involved in the Working Group for Innovation Excellence?

All participants in the working group have experience with VAR, have shown interest in proactively supporting FIFA with the development of the next generation of VAR technology and have signed a memorandum of understanding with FIFA. They are (in alphabetical order):

  • Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

  • Brazilian Football Association (CBF)

  • Confederation of African Football (CAF)

  • Dutch Football Association (KNVB)

  • Football Federation Australia (FFA)

  • French Football Federation (FFF)

  • German Football Association (DFB)

  • German Football League (DFL)

  • Major League Soccer (MLS)/the Professional Referee Organization (PRO)

  • Polish Football Association (PZPN)

  • Premier League (EPL)/Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL)

  • South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL)

  • Spanish Football Association (RFEF)

  • Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)

Test events towards 2022

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - FEBRUARY 09: FIFA Semi-Automated Offside Technology Demonstration as part of the Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium on February 9, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/FIFA)
Semi-automated offside tech aids referees and fans at FIFA Club World Cup™
FIFA have held further successful tests of semi-automated offside technology (SAOT) during the FIFA Club World Cup™ 2021 alongside 3D animations displayed on the stadium big screen and TV, giving spectators greater insight into offside decisions.
AL KHOR, QATAR - DECEMBER 06: Football Technology & Innovation at the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 Group A match between Qatar and Iraq at Al Bayt Stadium on December 06, 2021 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/FIFA)
Semi-automated offside & other technologies tested at FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™
With the FIFA Arab Cup 2021™ taking place in Doha, in the stadiums that will host the FIFA World Cup 2022™, the tournament provided the perfect opportunity to test a number of cutting-edge technologies for use on the biggest stage of all.
MUNICH, GERMANY - OCTOBER 18: A general view during the FIFA Semi-Automated Offside Technology Test at Allianz Arena on October 18, 2021 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Full integration of semi-automated offside technology tested at the Allianz Arena in Munich
With all individual parts of the puzzle previously completed, the final test in Munich was a dry-run of the technical setup as it could be used during FIFA tournaments. Applying the learnings from the numerous validation studies and the synchronization...
SEVILLE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 19:  Players wearing tracking devices and filmed with Vicon cameras during a FIFA Quality Programme for EPTS - Sevilla EPTS Test Event 2021 at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium on September 19, 2021 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
First end-to-end integration test in Seville, Spain
In the wake of the FIFA Quality Programme’s EPTS certification event, which saw more than 20 systems assessed including, for the first time, live data and ball position data, FIFA used the opportunity with all relevant providers on site to carry out a...
A large motion capture area was set up to collect a comprehensive gold standard data set using a large amount of reflective markers to accurately measure the position of the joints. This data serves as the basis for validating the emerging limb tracking technologies and helps determine absolute accuracy as well as completeness of the data.
Semi-automated offside technology tested at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester
Following on from the VAR technology tests that were conducted successfully during the FIFA Club World Cup 2020™, additional trials took place earlier this year in April and July in Düsseldorf, Germany and in August in Manchester, in order to further...
Testing offside technology in Düsseldorf
Semi-automated Offside Technology tested in Düsseldorf
In April, a semi-automated offside technology test took place in Düsseldorf, Germany, where the aim was to integrate various outputs from technology providers to build the semi-automated offside solution(s).
VAR Technology Tests Conducted During FIFA Club World Cup 2020™
After the first offline trials of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA Club World Cup™ in December 2019, earlier this year in February, the new technology was installed at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium...
ZEIST, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 05:  on March 5, 2020 in Zeist, Netherlands. (Photo by Lukas Schulze - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
VAR "light" concept taking shape
The FIFA Working Group for Innovation Excellence met on 27 October to coordinate the next steps in the development of VAR technology. Meeting for the fourth time, 13 competition organisers, who are experienced with the use of VAR technology, used a...
FIFA Organises Remote Demonstration Of Advanced Offside Technology
After the first test of semi-automated offside technology at the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2019 in Qatar, FIFA organised another demonstration of an advanced offside technology. Due to the current travel restrictions, FIFA invited the members o...
ZEIST, NETHERLANDS - MARCH 05:  on March 5, 2020 in Zeist, Netherlands. (Photo by Lukas Schulze - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
FIFA VAR Technology Tests Conducted Successfully On KNVB Campus
The KNVB campus played host to a two-day VAR technology test event on 4-5 March 2020, under the umbrella of FIFA and its new working group for innovation excellence.
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JUNE 02: A FIFA logo sits on a sign at the FIFA headquarters on June 2, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. Joseph S. Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. The 79-year-old Swiss official, FIFA president for 17 years said a special congress would be called to elect a successor. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
FIFA establishes working group to develop next steps for VAR technology
The video assistant referee (VAR) system has become a household name in the industry and has a major role to play in enhancing the transparency and quality of the game of football. This technology not only provides a supportive tool to improve refere...