Larger squad, more substitutions and new offside technology

These new rules await the German team at the 2022 World Cup

Magazine, 18.11.2022

The German national football team will have to be prepared for a couple of rule changes at the World Cup – in particular, the new offside technology that detects offences almost in real time. Together with referee expert Alex Feuerherdt from the German football podcast Collinas Erben (Collina’s heirs), we explain the most important changes.

Football field 

The World Cup kicks off on 20 November. Germany’s national team will make its first appearance in the tournament on 23 November against Japan. National coach Hansi Flick and his players are pretty familiar with the tournament rules, but there are also a few new ones.

Larger squads help the coaches

This year, the national team squad can include 26 players, compared with only 23 at previous World Cup tournaments. Besides the pro players’ heavy schedule and the timing of the tournament in the middle of the season, the risk of coronavirus cases in the team is also a reason for allowing a larger squad.

“That certainly makes sense, because the pandemic has shown that a few players can quickly drop out at the same time”, says Alex Feuerherdt, referee expert and co-founder of the Collinas Erben podcast. So it’s good for the national coach to have even more players to draw on, he adds.

Also at the World Cup – Five substitutions

During the matches, Hansi Flick will also be helped by the fact that five substitutions per team will be possible for the first time at the World Cup. Due to the pandemic, this increase has already been implemented in other competitions. The International Football Association Board (IFAB), which is responsible for the rules in world football, decided this year to keep the rule that allows five substitutions in three stoppages of play plus the half-time interval.

However, this also has consequences for the flow of the game, says Alex Feuerherdt: “Stronger teams benefit because they can substitute stronger players more often”. But in the end, the positive feedback from clubs and associations was decisive for adapting the substitution rule in this way. “The five substitutions have already become pivotal for the coaches, also with regard to managing physical strain and squad planning”, Feuerherdt believes.

New offside technology will be introduced

However, the biggest innovation at the World Cup for the national team will be the new semi-automated technology for detecting offside incidents. Within seconds, it signals to the video assistant referee (VAR) whether an offside position has occurred or not. Twelve cameras mounted beneath the stadium roof in each arena help with this.

“The system detects a player who is offside and automatically sends a signal to the video assistant”, explains Alex Feuerherdt regarding the procedure behind the new technology. “Then, the VAR must judge whether that player interfered in the game or influenced an opponent. That remains a human task”. If an offside position is determined, the referee will be notified by the VAR in the event that a goal is scored.

Lots of data, exact measurements

What does this mean in concrete terms? There won’t be any manually placed, calibrated offside lines on the screen like we know them from the Bundesliga (German national league). “The twelve cameras capture the ball 50 times per second and up to 29 parts of each player’s body, calculating their exact position on the pitch”, explains expert Feuerherdt, and adds: “In addition, the official match ball for the World Cup has a special sensor built into it that sends location data to the video assistant 500 times per second”. This makes it possible to determine the exact moment that the ball is released.

Once the referee’s decision has been made, the data points generate a 3D animation that illustrates the parts of the player’s body that were relevant to the decision at the time the ball was played. This animation is shown on television and on the big screens in the stadiums in order to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way.

Fewer wrong decisions and better game flow

Other advantages: “The data will be available almost in real time, improve the flow of the game and reduce wrong decisions”, says Feuerherdt, who thinks the semi-automated offside technology makes great sense. “Similar to goal-line technology, the game is not held up for long and the measurement is accurate”. So it’s a system that can significantly help referees.

(Text: Benjamin Esche)


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