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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33905

Law 11 - Offside 3/3/2020

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

Can you please help me understand why the late Everton goal against ManU was caulked off for 'Line of sight' reasons given.

I think this rule is a good rule, however, I struggle with it being in-play on this occasion.

de Gea clearly appears to see what is happening as he makes an obvious movement to his right.

The wording of the rule is '...clearly obstructing... ...line of vision...'. So if de Gea clearly moves in the direction of the travel direction of the ball when it is kicked by the opponent - how is he 'clearly obstructed'.

I'm grasping at straws, and might suggest he did see the directional movement of the ball - however, he sore it 'late' due to the opponent in his line-of-sight. Certainly worthy of consideration, but I just don't see strength in the argument on this occasion.

The ball looked to be heading out for a goal kick until Maguire made a late play at the ball and redirected into the goal. Maguire clearly attempts a play at the ball as he is seen attempting to twist his right leg/foot to stop the ball, alas, it comes at him too quickly for his efforts to be effective.

Even then, de Gea, appears to see the deflection and stops his movement to his right, clearly knowing the ball has changed directions.
So how is it the defender is 'clearly obstructing' if the keeper is reacting to the movement of the ball, and without any apparent delay (created by line-of-sight issues)?
As mentioned, I think this rule is an important rule, however, I just struggle to see how it is 'in-play' on this occasion.

And if we can be allowed to factor in 'in the spirit-of-the-law' on applicable occasion - why not now.

And just like with close penalty calls, if the outcome was the opposite, how much debate would there be.

If this was just up to the on field officials (who do not look at sideline monitors) I'd be more lenient as the pace of the directional changes to the ball was high. However, with Very Average Referring (VAR) looking at it, I'm surprised it was caulked off.

So please help me understand why, so I can add their reasoning into my knowledge bank.


Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
I think the only way to 'explain' this decision (if there is one) is to refer to the official statement on this, that was released by the Premier League. It reads as follows:

''In the 91st minute of Everton v Manchester United, Dominic Calvert-Lewin's goal was disallowed following a VAR Review for an offside offence against Gylfi Sigurdsson.

The on-field decision was to award the goal, but the VAR advised the referee that Sigurdsson was in an offside position directly in the line of vision of David de Gea and made an obvious action that impacted de Gea's ability to make a save.''

So you can see that, at least according to the official explanation, the offside decision was given more because of an obvious action by the offside-positioned player than for obstructing the keeper's line of vision (although somewhat confusingly, that is also mentioned).

However I'm not sure that you should 'add their reasoning into [your] knowledge bank' because I'm not sure I agree with it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
The official line was ready ported as that the on-field decision was to award the goal, but the VAR advised the referee that Sigurdsson was in an offside position directly in the line of vision of David de Gea and made an obvious action that impacted de Geas ability to make a save.
So not a line of sight interference yet the fact that the Everton player was some two yards from the goalkeeper and made a movement with his legs that impacted on deGea.
I personally do not agree with that yet that was the decision. Another VAR official might decide otherwise and award the goal. From what I read a rough straw poll of referees would suggest that many did not see it as offside.
Some points to consider
Was there any line of sight interference at the moment of the shot.
Why did the player just sit in front of the goal and the goalkeeper, making no effort to get out of the way until the shot came in .
What if the goalkeeper anticipated it hitting the player?
For what it is worth a spirit decision does not come into it. It is simply a matter of Law and in the opinion of the referee. If the goal was awarded there probably would be less fuss about as it is seen by many as not offside.
At park level this is not an easy one as there can be uncertainty as to whether the ball touches the player and maybe line of sight or being in the way of a dive by the GK.
It also highlights the vagaries of Law 11 as really there is no real reason here for offside to be considered. The game has lost its reason why Law11 exists. Is the player really off his side requiring an offence to be called.

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

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