Digital Media Library powers up The IFAB’s Video Assistant Referee project


Third Light, Cambridge software company, provide the technology for The IFAB's VAR project. Video Assistant Referees enable decisions made by the referee to be reviewed, using video footage taken during the game. IFAB's testing phase is being carried out in over 20 different competitions worldwide over a period of two years, and is due to be reviewed in March 2018.

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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) is the universal decision-making body for the Laws of the Game of association football. They safeguard, compile and amend the Laws where needed, and test any potential future changes in the form of comprehensive experiments in selected matches or entire competitions. March 2016 witnessed a historic Annual General Meeting when a testing phase for Video Assistant Referees was approved. Find out how Third Light's media library software has enabled them to develop their reporting for this project.

One interface makes the experience as simple and user-friendly as possible

Video Assistant Referees enable decisions made by the referee to be reviewed, using video footage taken during the game. IFAB's testing phase is being carried out in over 20 different competitions worldwide over a period of two years, and is due to be reviewed in March 2018, when the board will decide whether to implement the process officially or not, and extend its use to even more countries. By then hundreds of matches will have been played, with 10-15 video clips per match, representing a valuable asset for research.

To manage and compile the different data sources and file types required for the decisions to be made, The IFAB needed a bespoke solution. Third Light proposed a custom application that would combine and integrate their own digital media library software and SurveyGizmo's survey software. When a match is played, the referee team collects descriptive audio data and a collection of video clips for specific incidents that happen in the game for each potential reviewable incident related to goals, penalty kick situations, red cards and mistaken identity. These clips are then uploaded to the Third Light platform, and by simply pressing a button, each clip is then appended with more data that's gathered via a simple and smart web-based questionnaire. Each country has a project manager who is responsible for completing the questionnaire. The questionnaires are specific to the situation, so a penalty kick will return the penalty kick questions, and the smart survey tool does this automatically. Although this process uses more than one piece of software, everything is done using one interface to make the experience as simple and user-friendly as possible. Once completed, all the data is exported together and can be used for statistical analysis so that The IFAB can easily analyse the results and take a final decision on this matter.

Simon Freytag, Third Light's Professional Services Principal Consultant explains:

"A bespoke build project like this could have cost a huge amount of money. It would have required components to manage and store the videos, and components to gather and store the data associated with each match and clip. But between IFAB's team, the KU Leuven research team and our software engineers, we came up with a solution that combined the functionality of two existing pieces of software, saving both time and money."

Building a custom application that allows two pieces of existing technology to work together is often a cost-effective way of delivering a solution. Knowing that the existing software has already been tried and tested also provides an assurance that it will do the job, without having to suffer rounds of bug fixing and excessive development time.

Simon goes on to say:

"We designed the solution using a modern microservice. First we gather data about the match or clip from our media library and then send it to SurveyGizmo to set up the survey. Then, when the user completes the survey, it makes a call back to our microservice, which then stores the data in the media library. We store this data in the media library's metadata fields. Our software has a sophisticated metadata catalogue and includes a feature called Cascading Folder Metadata. This means metadata added about a match cascades down into the metadata for the clips, so the match's score, date and other data are all available as default values in the clips and surveys without retyping them. That may sound complicated, but it just means that all the data, video and survey files required for the Video Assistant Referees are captured, tagged and stored in one central space."

Lukas Brud, Secretary of The IFAB concludes:

"The co-operation with Third Light was professional and efficient from the very beginning. This complex experiment, involving many stakeholders with different accesses to the information stored on the platform, required a simple and user friendly environment and Third Light delivered the interface in a short time allowing us to start the project immediately and with the right tools. Third Light was certainly the right one for this job."

Third Light works with leading brands worldwide to help them manage, store, share and distribute digital files more effectively. If you think we could help your team too, . Or if you haven't tried our digital media library yet, sign-up today for a 30-day free trial.

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Based in Cambridge, Third Light has nearly 20 years' experience in digital asset management software. Our solutions are used by the marketing and creative teams of more than 300 organizations in fields including education, sport, not-for-profit and global business.

Third Light Ltd