Saturday 19 November 2022, 16:00

Collina: With SAOT we can make quicker and more accurate decisions

  • New offside technology and the Al Rihla ball were centre stage at the FIFA referees media day

  • Press conference held along with a practical session where referees spoke to the media

  • Referee Salima Mukansanga: “I’m excited and proud of myself and the other women who are here.”

Semi-Automated Offside Technology (SAOT) and the Al Rihla – the official adidas FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ match ball featuring connected ball technology – were the focal points of a media day showcasing the technologies that will assist the 32 teams of match officials at the tournament. SAOT will be used for the first time in conjunction with VAR at Qatar 2022 and will support video assistant referees and match officials on the pitch, allowing them to make faster, more accurate and reproducible offside decisions. For its part, the Al Rihla, which is fitted with an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) motion sensor, will play a vital part in resolving close offside calls.

FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina, FIFA Referees Department Head Massimo Busacca, and FIFA Director Football Technology & Innovation Johannes Holzmuller addressed the media at the press conference and those watching the live stream at, and fielded their questions. “[Since Russia 2018] we have been working hard to improve offside technology,” said Collina. “I’m talking about the time needed to reach a final decision, given the difficulty video assistant referees have in determining positions in very tight offside situations. Semi-Automated Offside Technology allows us to be quicker and more accurate in making these decisions.” Collina also thanked Holzmuller for his contribution to the development of this new technology. Taking his turn to speak, Holzmuller said: “We started just after the World Cup in Russia, carrying out different tests at the stadiums, at FIFA tournaments, and live with ball technology. We’re very happy with the results, which have been approved by leading universities around the world. We’ll now continue with the final tests in Qatar.”

“Anyone who’s been here this morning has been able to see for themselves how much work we are doing,” commented Busacca, who went on to praise the 32 teams of Qatar 2022 match officials for their efforts to date. “We arrived ten days ago but, believe me, we started our preparations a long time ago, like all the national teams taking part in the competition. The referees have worked hard. They want to succeed at this World Cup. They want to win.” The day began with a practical session in which the media had the chance to speak to some of the referees. Among them was Salima Mukansanga, one of three women who will be officiating at Qatar 2022. Expressing her excitement at taking part in the competition, the Rwanda referee said: “I’m excited and proud of myself and the other women who are here because this is the first time. It’s a great privilege to be part of the referees’ family, part of the A Team. It’s an opportunity to show that women can take part in a men’s World Cup, do their work and be successful.”

Referee Salima Mukansanga during the Referees Media Day at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022