Alexa learns the laws of football to help frustrated fans

The voice assistant has been updated with the official rules of the sport so fans can ask questions about them and how they're interpreted.

Frustrated football fans can now turn to Amazon’s Alexa for clarity on the sport’s rules and to help understand refereeing decisions.

The voice assistant has received an update which takes in the official laws of the game from the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

It means that users of any Alexa-enabled device, including Echo smart speakers, will be able to ask questions such as “Alexa, explain the offside rule” and “Alexa, has the handball rule changed?”

The tech giant says the update means Alexa has become the world’s first voice assistant referee and has dubbed the new feature “VARlexa”, in reference to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology now used in many top-level football matches.

Eric King, director of Alexa Europe, said the aim of the new tool is to offer a new way to make Alexa users’ lives easier through technology.

“By teaming up Alexa with experts in the laws of the beautiful game, we’re giving fans instant assistance on the official rules as they watch Premier League football on Prime Video – by simply using their voice,” he said.

“By increasing Alexa’s sporting knowledge, we continue our aim to make customers’ lives easier by keeping them up to speed with the latest information using voice technology.”

The technology company said the new feature also follows a survey of 2,000 football fans by its Prime Video streaming service, which found that two-thirds of people (66%) admit to not fully understanding the rules of the game.

In addition, 82% of those polled said they thought they would enjoy football more if they had a better grasp of the laws, and 85% said they felt it would be an advantage to have instant and reliable access to the official rules during live games.

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