At Qatar 2022 even when the game begins, the virtual world still seeps in | Jonathan Liew

Semi-automated offside, augmented reality and CGI replays are all part of the match-day experience at this World Cup

The camera slowly zooms in on Lionel Messi’s face. And keeps zooming. And keeps zooming. The lens is steady, the focus deep and dramatic, blurring everything but the sole object of its attention. The camera keeps zooming.

Soon Messi’s shoulders are no longer visible. Then his neck disappears, then his chin. The camera keeps zooming. It is moments before Argentina and Mexico are about to step out in Lusail and the greatest player in the world is being subjected to the photographic equivalent of a nasal swab.

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