August 15, 2013

What a "deliberate save" means

Certainly, when the altered offside amendments were visible and accessible to all referees in the new edition of the Laws of the Game, one could have thought that this had only been a small adaption without that much impact on future match situations. This conjecture was wrong.

World Cup 2010 (/2014?) assistant referee Mike Pickel of Germany (c)

In the last weeks there were however already plenty of examples that all could have functioned as paramount examples to illustrate what was written down in the interpretations of Law 11. One of them should be highlighted and clarified now. It happened yesterday when Italy met Argentina in form of a FIFA friendly match. Please go to 2:34 in the following video!

It is visible that after the rebound from the Argentine goalkeeper a shot on goal is executed by an Italian player that would have reached the goal in a dangerous manner. After a deflection by Mascherano, that should be discussed later on and that is crucial for the correct assessment of this situation, Italian forward #7 received the ball and scored having been in a clear offside position at the point of time when the original shot on goal was executed. Now the question is to what extent Mascherano's deflection is relevant and how it has to be classified.

The Laws of the Game define that “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 (not applicable for this situation)
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."

What is a "deliberately playing the ball" and what does mean "deliberate save"?
According to FIFA and UEFA instructions:

Deliberately playing the ball requires a clearly deliberate act of a player making a clear movement towards the ball while the quality of this action is to be ignored by the referee.
A deliberate save can be compared to a goalkeeper's save. It is applicable for every player on the pitch though and means that a potential goal is prevented from being scored by this save.

Mascherano surely moved towards the ball to save it. This is however not enough to classify it as deliberately playing the ball. What Mascherano was aware of is that his goalkeeper had tried to make a save before the ball rebounded from the crossbar, meaning that the whole goal was empty and the ball, having moved towards it, would have very likely been a goal scored by Italy. That's why he had to face this ball with a deliberate save saving a goal from being scored. Italy's #7 gained a clear advantage by this deliberate save and was therefore correctly flagged by Wolfgang Stark's assistant referee Mike Pickel.


  1. Anonymous15/8/13 15:04

    Now this is not offside. Very confusing and not necessary changing. Only the referees will have problems.

  2. Anonymous15/8/13 16:00

    Clearly offside for me.

  3. The deliberate save is going to become a nightmare for assistant referees and referees:(
    I see this particular situation as an offside offence. The ball was strong, the Argentinian's line of vision was covered, so had no time to react better than this. Yes, he had made the move, but simply had no time to convert deliberate save into deliberate play.


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