May 20, 2014

Situation from MLS shows Law 11 is still confusing players - and assistant referees

Almost a year ago, the IFAB decided to alter the literal wording of Law 11 to simplify the interpretation of offside and pay more attention to the real intention of the defenders concerned.  


Here you can find another suitable example of the circumstance that this new offside rule has not yet met the players' awareness, approval and understanding. In addition it shows that also assistant referees have still problems to transfer their theoretical comprehension of what these changes mean into intuitive praxis on the field of play, a requirement I often called "internalization" in the past.


In the US American MLS match between RB New York and Chicago Fire (4:5) refereed by 46-year old Kevin Stott, a red-dressed away midfielder made a middle-high pass into the penalty area. The goalkeeper was hesitant since another attacker, who had clearly been closer to the goalline than the second last defender, likely reached and distracted the ball. But as he did not do so, the ball went into the goal unexpectedly without physical contact by the attacker.
At first, assistant referee 1 Brian Poeschel had raised the flag for offside, but after two or three seconds and a potential overruling or consultation via micro, he took it down and ran towards the midfield line: The officials surprisingly allowed this goal to count. And they were right. 

Let us compare the old and new versions of Law 11 with each other.

Old version
New version effective from 1st July 2013

In the context of Law 11 – Offside, the following definitions apply:

(…)
·         “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

·         “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent

·         “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a goalpost or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position


In the context of Law 11 – Offside, the following definitions apply:

(…)
·         “interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

·         “interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball


·         “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball

I) that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position

II) that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.


The attacker in offside did not interfere with play. Moreover, he did not gain an advantage from being in that position in the sense of the Laws of the Game. Therefore, the only criteria that might be discussed is interfering with an opponent. 

A year ago, the assistant referee's original decision would have been correct: Although the goalkeeper's line of sight was absolutely free and not obstructed at all, he had to gauge whether the attacker would reach the ball. For this reason, the attacker made a "movement, which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent" - so: Offside. 

However, this passage was completely changed in Law 11's new version. Now gestures or movements are not enough anymore. It rather depends on whether the attacker actively challenges an opponent, i.e. the goalkeeper, for the ball. The guidelines issued by UEFA propose either physical interference as a basis for such a challenge or being within playing distance.
This playing distance is defined as max. 1,5 m and considered to be specified further soon: "A player in an offside position is deemed to be “challenging an opponent for the ball” if he makes a clear action within playing distance which impacts the ability of the opponent to play the ball." 

In our concrete match situation, the attacker neither physically interfered with the goalkeeper, nor did he challenge him within playing distance. He was several metres away. Without any doubt, the goalkeeper was cognitively irritated by the attacker - but the new rule does not care about that. He was not clearly impacted in his ability to play the ball. The goal was legally scored - NO OFFSIDE.
And that's probably what World Cup referee Mark Geiger - in his function as fourth official - explained to the quite furious coach in the aftermath of this situation...and that's what you can try to explain to coaches and 13-year old players in your own amateur matches. Good luck!

20 Comments:

  1. Anonymous21/5/14 02:37

    IN UEFA RAP 2014(booklet),1.5m is not mentioned anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous21/5/14 02:56

      BTW,in USSF 13-14 guidelines,It states:playing distance is not defined by any specific distance but should be determined by the ability of the players and consistent with the game’s competitive level.But I stil agree with you in this situation.I also saw the report Arsenal vs Bayern,no offside for not being in the 1.5m playing distance)? nonsense.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous21/5/14 09:04

    this topic is quite hot at the moment. Due to FIFA confederations and associations using it differently.

    Unofficial yet, but UEFA has pointed out to FIFA that the Law is not conclusive at the moment and it will be rewritten in the next IFAB meeting.

    It is said that FIFA is adding the following:

    A player in an offside position is deemed to be “challenging an opponent for the ball” if he makes a clear action within playing distance which impacts the ability of the opponent to play the ball.

    This means that the clear action of trying to play the ball when the ball is within playing distance of the attacker ise deemed to have impact on the goalkeepers ability to play the ball.

    It all started from this clip, as UEFA said that by the rules this is a valid goal, as there is no challange for the ball.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fcffxjnc5qc

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous21/5/14 10:31

    Great piece. However this is the big problem-education and awareness of the Laws of the Game-more so interpretation needs to reach all from grassroots upwards! If you look at the recent Collina masterclass on Sky Sports-no doubt people will have more respect and awareness on the topics discussed. I have an initiative in my country of going to schools or clubs with a respect-awareness workshop, it's very rewarding when all those on the course learn something and have more appreciation for officials.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous21/5/14 19:37

    Just attended the UEFA RAP course and according to the guidelines this is offside, "If a player in an offside position makes a clear action within playing distance ( 1-1,5m not mentioned anymore) which impacts the ability of the opponent to play the ball". I beleive this is the case...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which clip are you talking about? The MLS one or the ManU one?

      Delete
    2. The playing distance of 1,5m is defined in the 2013/14 guidelines and is based on UEFA.
      http://www.scottishfa.co.uk/resources/documents/RefereeEducation/Amendments/Law%2011%20-%20Offside.pdf

      Delete
    3. Anonymous22/5/14 12:04

      MLS one. Hugh Dallas spoke about the new instructions. It was two weeks ago. The same instructions have been given to the World cup referees and assistants.Playing distance 1-1,5 m OUT, IN -impact on opponent's ability...

      Delete
    4. Then I would be grateful to get these instructions in written way (via mail).

      Delete
    5. Anonymous23/5/14 20:40

      Glad to do it, give me your e-mail.

      Delete
    6. You can contact the admin here:
      http://footballrefereeing.blogspot.it/p/contact.html
      or writing directly a mail to:
      footballrefereeing.blogspot@gmx.de

      Delete
    7. Anonymous24/5/14 01:35

      763197858@qq.com also please!thx

      Delete
    8. Anonymous, could you please send the document?

      Delete
    9. Anonymous27/5/14 22:39

      Please send one also to hrmate@freemail.hu
      Thx a lot!!!

      Delete
  5. Anonymous22/5/14 00:38

    the 1,5m is long gone. Now the new wording is: impact on the opponents ability. This MLS is now offside.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The head of development at PRO ruled this a valid goal and confirmed the referee's decision.
      “In this play there is no doubt that Mike Magee clearly distracts Robles but unfortunately for Robles that is not a consideration any more."

      http://www.proreferees.com/news-play-of-the-week---2014---wk10extra.php

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    2. I don't understand your argument actually. Ok - playing distance is maybe gone, this would be a helpful info for the blog to teach referees that way..
      But: why is the MLS goal offside then? I don't see that the goalkeeper was impacted in his ABILITY to play the ball in any way.

      Delete
  6. Anonymous22/5/14 19:59

    The clear action of trying to play the ball when the ball is within playing distance of the attacker ise deemed to have impact on the goalkeepers ability to play the ball.

    The lawmakers count that the keeper has to decide what to do on the opponents movements. And the attacker makes a clear movement to go and play the ball and the goalkeeper is thus unsure what to do. He does not jump.

    this is considered as the attackers impact on the goalie.

    hopefully the new wording will be out soon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If that is the new guideline I like it very much. My feeling of course says offside in the MLS situation.
      But, without nitpicking: the wording "ability" suggests something different IMO. The goalkeeper COULD have played the ball, so he was theoretically ABLE to play the ball. A bit confusing but maybe there is no better literal expression :)

      Delete
  7. Anonymous23/5/14 09:42

    According to previous interpretation (till July 2013), offside decision in this case could be taken as correct but we must take into consideration magical words "in the opinion of the referee". My opinion is that AR was simply too quick to raise his flag, nothing else. The discussion could factually arise if he had correctly applied the technique wait and see an then signaled the player offside. Actually, I could accept both possible decisions in this situation but I my feling is that the factual decision to allow the goal was better.

    Best regards
    PL

    ReplyDelete

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