September 12, 2014

Offside - Challenging an opponent for the ball

CHALLENGING AN OPPONENT FOR THE BALL...
is part of the criteria "interfering with an opponent" and makes an offside position punishable.
Interfering with an opponent is one of three criteria that determine the punishability of an offside position, which is no offense in itself. Besides challenging an opponent for the ball, clearly obstructing the line of vision belongs to interfering with an opponent and can be found here.



The probably most difficult facet of the current version of Law 11 concerns "challenging an opponent for the ball". Law 11 does not further define the meaning of this term. After the implementation in July 2013, UEFA's guidelines stated that an attacker, who is initially in an offside position, challenges an opponent for the ball when two criteria are fulfilled:

1. Physical interference with an opponent and
2. Being within playing distance (the ball should be maximum 1.5 metres away)

It was emphasized that - contrary to the former rule - challenging an opponent means something more than making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.

Furthermore, the responsible persons stressed that there must be really a fight for the ball when a player is challenging an opponent.

However, some unlucky and unclear results were obtained by these guidelines. Much discussion cropped up after a goal scored in the match between Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 1 of 2013/14 Champions League group stage. The referee team did not deem an attacker on the goalline, who was preventing the goalkeeper from making a save, to be challenging the goalkeeper for the ball (since the ball was apparently metres away and not within playing distance, see Clip 8).
Therefore the following guidelines were given to the UEFA referees and even World Cup match officials according to our partners of law-11.com:

1) 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.

2) A player in an offside position is deemed to be "challenging an opponent for the ball" if he is impeding the movements / actions of an opponent.

3) A goal cannot be awarded if a player is clearly impeded in his movements to save the ball by an attacker who is in an offside position (it doesn't matter if he is making movements or simply standing).

4) Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's movement should be considered as equivalent to clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision.

These elements are decisive:

1. Clear action by the attacker!
2. Impact on the ability of the opponent to play the ball!
3. Impeding the movement / actions of an opponent!
4. Being within playing distance with the ball really close!

UEFA also reminded their officials on a fifth component:

5. The attacker should clearly attempt to play the ball!

But of course, not all criteria are always fulfilled. It is therefore often a weighing up process which must decide on a grey area.

Provided us with the new guidelines: Offside Explained
Personally I doubt that UEFA has made the Law and its interpretation much clearer, but for sure it meets the sense of football more than the official FIFA and IFAB version does. The problem is and stays that there is no clearly visible and uniformly applied line in terms of what challenging an opponent for the ball exactly means. Please also note, as pointed out by our partners from Offside Explained, that UEFA has implemented these guidelines unofficially as they otherwise could get in trouble with the Laws of the Game.
Please keep in mind that the assessment of whether an attacker is deemed to be challenging an opponent for the ball is at the discretion, i.e. in the opinion, of the referee and his assistant referee. Even though it is no masterclass recipe which guarantees success, I would recommend every official to integrate his intuitive feeling for the game into his interpretation, specially if he is unsure as there are contradictory criteria - which might happen.

Also "challenging an opponent for the ball" is an area where the referee can play a decisive role. Often times he savours a better visual control of duels to assess whether or not an attacker is challenging an opponent for the ball based on the criteria presented above. It is the referee's duty to co-operate with his assistant referees like they are co-operating with him! 
TOGETHER EVERYBODY ACHIEVES MORE!

Referees are also reminded to correct too early or simply wrong offside flags of their assistants by overruling them, i.e. by waiving them down.  Thank your colleagues for their input, but quickly tell them that there was not any offence from your position. In this context, assistant referees are particularly reminded to apply the wait-and-see-technique to gauge whether an attacker, who is in an offside position, really interferes with an opponent by challenging him for the ball.


CLIP 1 - Challenging



Interpretation: 
An attacker is in an offside position and, by jumping with him in a fight for the ball, challenges an opponent for the ball. Play must be stopped for offside offence and re-started accordingly. In such situations, it is necessary to apply the wait-and-see-technique to identify whether an attacker in an offside position really becomes involved in active play. Better raise your flag late and be correct instead of raising it too early and being mistaken!

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE

CLIP 2 - Challenging



Interpretation: 
At the moment when the free-kick is taken, an attacking player (Black #5) is in an offside position. He is not interfering with play, as he does not touch the ball. However, given the physical interference and proximity to the ball, he must be deemed to be interfering with an opponent by actively challenging a defender for the ball. Play should be stopped for offside offence and re-started accordingly.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 3 - Challenging



Interpretation: 
At the moment of the unsuccessful shot, attacking player Green #25 is not in an offside position. Even though the assistant referee apparently lacked in freezing his visual image in his mind and incorrectly adjudged #25 to be in an offside position, he demonstrated a generally suitable interpretation of the situation, as he justifiably deemed #25 to be challenging the white defender for the ball. This clip shows that there is not always a clear borderline between challenging an opponent for the ball and not challenging an opponent for the ball. The attacker's clear action and proximity to the ball and defender are enough to accept the assistant referee's decision.
This example also shows that correct information, a correct interpretation and consistent decision-taking process become irrelevant as long as the perceptual judgement is wrong.

Solution: RATHER AN OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 4 - No Challenging



Interpretation: 
Play is incorrectly stopped for offside offence. An attacker - Blue #18 - is in an offside position but neither interfering with play nor with an opponent. He is not challenging the defender for the ball and has no impact on his ability to play the ball. Assistant referees are reminded to wait and see whether a player, who is in an offside position, really becomes actively involved. Referees are reminded to overrule their assistant referee's decision - as long as they are sure.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE

CLIP 5 - No Challenging



Interpretation: 
The assistant referee does not wait long enough and raises his flag too early. An attacker is in an offside position but is clearly not challenging the defender for the ball and therefore has no interference with an opponent. He is not in playing distance, makes no attempt to reach or play the ball and finally has no impact on his opponent's ability to play the ball. Play should be allowed to continue. Referees are reminded to overrule / correct their assistant referees if they are 100% sure that the attacker concerned is not challenging anyone for the ball, as clip 6 shows.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE

CLIP 6 - No Challenging with Overruling



Interpretation:
The assistant referee incorrectly raises his flag for offside offence. The yellow-dressed attacker is in a clear offside position but does not interfere with an opponent, as he is not challenging the defender for the ball. He does not have any impact on his ability to play the ball, is not within playing distance and does not try to play the ball.
The referee let play flow and applied an advantage, probably because the defending team was staying in possession of the ball and had a relatively good benefit from having the ball. It would have been even better if the referee had overruled his assistant referee's flag after reading the game and identifying that there was no case of challenging an opponent for the ball at all. If you are sure, don't hesitate to overrule your assistant!

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 7 - No Challenging



Interpretation: 
Contrary to the previous clips, here the assistant referee well detects that the attacker is in an offside position but does not interfere with an opponent. He does not fulfill any criteria of challenging an opponent for the ball and has no impact on the defender's ability to play / clear the ball.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 8 - Impact on an opponent / Impeding an opponent (challenging)


Interpretation: 
That's the situation that caused confusion last season and made the responsible persons inside UEFA re-define their guidelines and even consult FIFA and the IFAB. At 00:44, attacking player #3 is already in a tight offside position and interferes with play. The assistant referee allows play to continue - a decision which can be defended given the contrary movements, difficulty of the situation and principle to let the flag down in doubtful situations, in order to decide in favour of the attacking team.
However, play should have been stopped and the goal disallowed for offside offence given the active involvement in play of Red #25, who is positioned on the goalline. Having initially been in an offside position, he has an impact on the goalkeeper's ability to play the ball by impeding the movement/actions of an opponent, who is about to save a goal from being scored, in a way that this goal cannot be allowed.
The attacker should be deemed to be challenging an opponent for the ball. To go completely sure, one could have even whistled an offensive foul.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE (and OFFENSIVE FOUL)   

CLIP 9 - Impact on an opponent / Impeding an opponent (challenging)


 
Interpretation: 
Like in Clip 8, an attacker in an offside position is standing on the goalline and having a clear impact on an opponent by clearly impeding the goalkeeper's ability to move and save the ball. Play must be stopped for offside offence, as the white attacker is challenging an opponent for the ball.
Although the assistant referee should definitely see that himself, the referee has the responsibility to identify this accordingly and co-operate with the assistant referee in order to come to the right decision, too.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE   

CLIP 10 - Impact on an opponent


Interpretation:
At the moment when the free-kick is executed, an attacker is in an offside position. He clearly attempts to play the ball and has an impact on the goalkeeper's actions and ability to play the ball. He should be therefore deemed to be challenging the goalkeeper for the ball. The goal is correctly disallowed for offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE
  
CLIP 11 - Impact on an opponent



Interpretation:
At the moment of the header by an attacker, one of his teammates is in an offside position. By jumping he clearly attempts to play the ball and has an impact on the goalkeeper's ability to save the ball. He should be therefore considered to be challenging an opponent for the ball. Keep in mind that this clear attempt to play the ball could be even judged as interfering with play - at least according to UEFA's guidelines.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE  

CLIP 12 - Impact on an opponent / Impeding an opponent (challenging)



Interpretation: 
Very tricky situation for the referee and the assistant referee. While falling, white attacker #9 is touching the ball last making it move towards the goalline. Another attacker, who has initially been in an offside position at the moment of the touch, is standing between the defender and the ball until the ball crosses the goalline. The question is whether he had an impact on the defender's ability to play the ball or not.

Criteria:

1. Clear action by the attacker - Rather NO: He had his arms slightly outstretched to the back and showed a slightly bowed body posture arousing the impression he marginally protected or shielded the ball. But a CLEAR action, e.g. to protect the ball or to prevent the opponent from reaching it, looks different.

2. Impact on the ability of an opponent to play the ball - YES & NO: You can argue that, by slightly shielding the ball, he prevented the defender from playing the ball. In this case, the attacker should be considered to have an impact on the opponent's ability to play the ball and must be deemed to be challenging an opponent for the ball. You can however also argue that the attacker just stood there, did not unnaturally move into this position and did nothing to really prevent the defender, who was quite busy with raising his hands to hope for an offside decision, from playing the ball.

3. Impeding the movement / actions of an opponent - YES: By standing in the defender's way and even slightly shielding the ball, the attacking player impeded the movement and rescuing actions of the defender. 

4. Being within playing distance with the ball really close - YES

5. The attacker should clearly attempt to play the ball - NO

 
As you can see, we have arguments for both which indicates that we are in a grey area of Law 11. From our point of view, the referee's decision must be accepted and should be defended. Apart from the criteria outlined above, it is however absolutely clear that, by and large, the attacker in an offside position prevented the defender from reaching the ball.

Our recommendation is: OFFSIDE OFFENCE, but we accept both interpretations, specially considering that there are arguments for both and that assistant referees as well as referees have to go through all these difficult criteria within a few seconds in the dynamic of the match.

The rule and guidelines are simply not clear enough and assistant referees as well as referees are the victims of this missing clarity on the field of play!

QUIZ-CLIPS:  CHALLENGING OR NO CHALLENGING?

Now, it's your turn. Based on the previous clips, you are hopefully able to solve the following clips. Just write your solutions down (or keep them in mind shortly) and check the PDF document at the bottom of this post to control them.

QUIZ-CLIP 1


Challenging or No Challenging?
Challenging - OFFSIDE OFFENCE
No Challenging - NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE
Poll Maker

QUIZ-CLIP 2


Challenging or No Challenging
Challenging - OFFSIDE OFFENCE
No Challenging - NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE
Poll Maker


QUIZ-CLIP 3


Challenging or No Challenging
Challenging - OFFSIDE OFFENCE
No Challenging - NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE
poll generator

SOLUTIONS NEXT WEEK!

7 Comments:

  1. Anonymous13/9/14 04:13

    http://www.proreferees.com/news-play-of-the-week---2014---wk26.php the 2nd video, IMO,it's deflection not deliberate play.Speed of the ball is too quick(despite the distance seems...),and the defender instinctively touched the ball.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed.

      On topic: These offside posts have helped me and my team to understand this difficult topic. Thanks so much.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous13/9/14 12:30

    The same situation is also analysed as a DEFLECTION as video nr 3 in the thread
    http://www.law-11.com/delib-play--deflection/complicated-situations

    Offside Explained has today posted the complete overview of Deliberate play & Deflection today.

    http://www.law-11.com/delib-play--deflection

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous30/9/14 15:12

    Could you please analyze the Nigerian goal disallowed for offside in the 2014 U20 Womens World Cup final? It was a major decision since that happened at 0-0 and later Germany won 1-0. Was that an active offside or the ball already crossed the goalline and the goal should have stand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have a suitable video link please?

      Delete
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QI59qR1u49U&feature=youtu.be&t=1m30s

      Referee: Carol Anne Chénard (CAN)
      AR2: Suzanne Morisset (CAN)

      To me, in this case, it is not clear enough to judge, so I will support the referees. That being said, I might not be the most neutral of observers in this case.

      Delete
    3. Thanks.
      No offside for me, as the ball had already crossed the goalline. Therefore no interference with play or an opponent.

      Delete

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