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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33904

Law 11 - Offside 2/29/2020

RE: Rec Adult

Jonny Gray of Villamartin, Orihuela Costa Spain asks...

With all the VAR controversy with offside, can you explain why it differs from goal line technology where there has to be clear daylight over the line to be a goal. In fact its the same for corners and throw-ins too, so why with offside is it the opposite where your big toe can be just ahead of the defender and be given offside. Isnt that a bit discriminating against those with large feet? Also when VAR draw those ridiculous lines for offside, why are they not the same thickness as the white painted lines used for everything else? I feel a bit of continuity in the rules are needed for VAR to ever be accepted in the game!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jonny
Two totally different systems that factors in very differing calculations. In goal line technology the frame of the goal and the goal line is fixed and all that has to be calculated is the location of the ball.
In offside the moment the ball is played, the position of the second last opponent and the forward all have to be factored in the calculation which by its nature is dynamic, with all three constantly moving.
I have suggested that VAR should only look for clear and obvious errors in which for example the Giroud goal against Man Utd would not have been ruled out for offside.
Without the Blue and Red lines this will look onside so it is not clear and obvious that the AR made an error.
In the Wenger *daylight* proposal all that changes is the location of the lines so again we could have the situation that say Girouds foot, the red line was behind Lindelofs foot the Blue line that would be onside and the argument will be made is that it looks offside to the naked eye yet technology if used could show onside.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jonny,
I feel that this is rather a case of trying to compare apples and oranges. Deciding when a ball has completely crossed over a static white line on the pitch and deciding whether one player is closer than another to the end line for the purposes of offside are two completely different concepts, so I don't think we can apply the same criteria to them.

Having said that, there is obviously a problem with how VAR technology is being applied to making the determination of offside position. Not the least of these problems is the way the VAR system is used in several countries, where it involves drawing lines that try to measure the players' relative positions to almost the exact millimetre, while using a technology can have a margin of error of up to 30 cm or more in extreme cases. In England for example, the VAR cameras have a frame rate of 50 fps, so if an attacking player is running at 18mph, they will travel almost 17cm between two frames. A full explanation of how this can cause such big errors is given in the following link:

One suggestion to compensate for this that has been put forward, and acknowledged by Mike Riley of the PGMOL in England is indeed, as you suggest, to use wider lines on the screen so that the margins would not be so fine and players who are now given offside by mere millimetres, would instead be judged as level and therefore onside.

Another possible way to avoid this 'false precision' might be to adopt the system used in the US where no lines are drawn on the screen but the VAR just 'eyeballs' it and if no obvious error is seen to the naked eye, then the on-field decision stands.

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

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