August 11, 2011

DISCUSSION: France vs Ecuador

KIM Dong Jin (Korea Rep., 1973)
Mercifully, football and its manifold laws consistently present new controversial situations which can be discussed. After this hotly debated incident in last week's Bundesliga encounter between Hannover and Hoffenheim, one of those decisions could be observed yesterday, too. That will be the last post for two weeks as I am gonna be on vacation.

It is a matter of yesterday's FIFA Under 20 World Cup Round of 16 match in Colombia between France and Ecuador when the only goal of the evening scored by France was given by the Korean referee Kim Dong-Jin, although some people of the community have seen an offside position there. As there is no good youtube video for this situation, you can use's service HERE.

The main question is: Did the French player who was offside influence the goalkeeper's reaction, behaviour or view? If yes, it is surely offside and consequently a match decisive mistake, that is what I thought before..)
Let us consult - again - FIFA Laws of the Game:

LAW 11 - Offside - FIFA Laws of the Game 2011/2012 - Page 33

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
- interfering with play or
- interfering with an opponent or
- gaining an advantage by being in that position

The case of "gaining an advantage by being in that position" stands - in my opinion - for the situation if the reaction or view of the goalkeeper will be influenced by the player being in an offside position.
Was that the case? To my mind, not really. He had enough time to react; furthermore, the French who was offside made no move to get the ball as he surely recognized that he cannot get it, in addition, he was about one metre away from the ball from the goalkeeper's perspective.
In my opinion, this rule is out of the question as the Assistant Referees have to..

- pay attention to the moment when the ball is played
- be at level with the last defender
- decide in approximately 0,5 seconds whether the player was in offside and whether he is active or passive and finally...
- interpret whether the goalkeeper was influenced by that.

How should one handle that in extremely close situations?

Interpretation, that is the key word. In the school, there one says: "Every interpretation is correct or is not wrong as long as there are good reasons for it." These good reasons exist for both sides in this specific situation, for offside and for onside.
From my point of view, it is onside and therefore a correct and important decision made by Byoung Eun Yang.

The most important thing is that nobody can say that it was a mistake, because in this situation, where it was a 50-50 decision, there is simply no totally wrong decision. The rule emphasizes the expression "in the opinion of the referee", an opinion never is wrong.

But what do you think?
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