Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 33891

Law 11 - Offside 2/19/2020

RE: All Other

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

From Reuters:
'FIFA's head of global development Arsene Wenger will attempt to make a major change to the offside law which could end a run of contentious decisions in the game since the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).

Wenger, who was manager of Premier League club Arsenal for 22 years, wants a player to be deemed onside if any part of their body which can legitimately score a goal is level or behind the last defender.

It will flip the current rule which states the player is in an offside position if any part of their body they can score with is beyond the line of the last defender.' The article goes on to say it would be easier for VAR to determine offside.

I don't like it based on the competitive advantage it would bring. Basically would say if a forward has any part of their body in line with the 2nd-to-last defender, even if the rest of their body is offside, they are considered onside. Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Derek,
It's certainly something that is being debated at the moment, especially in England as far as I can tell. However, although I watch a number of games from other leagues, I don't read an awful lot of the punditry and media commentary on these leagues so it could be it's an issue there as well. I'm also not sure that this particular proposal would improve matters that much, it's just slightly shifting the line of the debate - literally and figuratively. Overall though, I think this is primarily a VAR issue and changing the law is not the way to deal with it, rather we need to change the way VAR offside determinations are made.

One way of dealing with this might be as ref McHugh alludes to, to not use virtual lines drawn on a video screen at all but instead, to do as the MLS does and just allow the VAR to 'eyeball' it. According to an interview given by Howard Webb, general manager of the Professional Referees Organisation in the US, the MLS will not use VAR line drawing technology for offside decisions. Instead they will use the following process:

'The on-field officials make an onside/offside judgment and that will be considered correct unless the VAR identifies, in their opinion from looking at the footage, a clear and obvious error.'

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Derek,
I think it's a terrible and poorly thought out idea.
For one, it doesn't change anything. There will STILL be debate over the 'millimetre' decisions (they're not taken to that level as it is, but anyway) - instead, it'll be debate over whether they are past by an inch or not. And I actually think that will be harder to determine clearly, especially given how difficult it can be to measure it against the correct spot of the shoulder.
So, it doesn't change anything - just moves where the debate lies.
Additionally, it'll be impossible to judge as an AR. Picture a crowded penalty area - you may be able to see a player is in an offside position, but in a crowd their 'upfield-most' part of the body relative to the 2nd last line of defence will often be obscured.
This will remove none of the problems and simply introduce new ones.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
I raised this in previous questions involving offside and VAR
Law 11 was not written nor intended for use with VAR so we now have the unwanted situation that a players body is essentially level with the 2nd last opponent yet technology shows part of a foot being beyond the offside line.
To the naked eye these will look onside and case in point was the disallowed goal in the Chelsea v Manchester United game.

To the AR this would have looked onside and only technology would have picked it up
So for me I would be in favour of a change not this change. I recall back in the early 2000s there was a suggestion by a senior FA instructor that *daylight* should be seen by an AR before offside was called. The reason was to try to only call really obvious offsides not tight ones using the naked eye. It took some time for that advice to be removed from the lexicon of soccer in the UK. It is interesting that it is rearing its head again.
Indeed some are suggesting that the modern game does not need offside and that is a bigger debate for another day
All in all I think that change is worth considering yet I suppose the difficulty with this proposal is that if the lines continue to be used that the tight calls will still be there just in a different location of the body. Okay it will probably look more like offside yet the tight ones that are not given will be questioned in the same way.
Maybe the simplest way is to remove the technology lines and look at it from a naked eye perspective and in the Chelsea goal example that will look onside without the Blue and Red lines. It would not have been a clear and obvious error if the goal was awarded so the onfield decision is accepted.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33891
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.