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Question Number: 34124

Mechanics 2/16/2021

RE: Pro Adult

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

I have another question which is also related to APP (attacking phase of play) in VAR protocol. Does a one-touch back pass by defending team's player start a new attacking phase of play even if the back pass is intercepted by one of the opponents? For example, a long ball is played by player A3, player B4 run behind the ball and gave a one-touch back pass to his goalkeeper but before the ball reaches the goalkeeper, it is intercepted by player A9. In that case, does the back pass by player B4 reset the attacking phase of play?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Crebs,
I think you're actually coming at this from slightly the wrong angle. The start of attacking phase of play is not defined by any action on the part of the opponents. It is only to do with, and can only be assessed by reference to, what the 'attacking' team does and when/where they do it.

As stated in the protocol:

"attacking phase possession (APP)' will require the referee (assisted by the VAR) determine:

the point at which the attacking team gained possession of the ball and then the point at which the phase of play that led to the goal/penalty incident started"

In terms of when the phase of play started, "attacking phase possession" (APP) is considered to have begun at:

"the point at which the attacking team advanced with the ball towards their opponents' penalty area and, if the attacking team has a long period of 'keep ball' possession, the point at which they either cross the halfway line (for 'keep ball' in their own half) or, if keep ball' is in their opponents' half, the point at which a clear forward/attacking phase of play starts"

As you see, there is no mention in the definition of any action by the opponent, only by the attacking team. So if you try to shift your viewpoint away from the defending team and look only at what the attacking team does (when they gain possession, cross the halfway line and/or start an attacking move), I think you'll have a better handle on it.

To address your specific scenario, the point at which the attacking team gained possession after the "back pass" is the start of the attacking phase possession. It doesn't matter if the back pass was good, bad or indifferent, that is irrelevant to the determination. Once again, it's not that the back pass by the defender "resets" the APP, it's that the act of gaining control by the attacker starts it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
Attacking phase of play relates to the attacking team in possession of the ball.
Once possession is lost and the ball turned over then any attacking phase has ended.
Now there will be occasions when an offence occurs just before the ball is turned over and it is up to the referee and VAR to decide if that offence should be penalised if unseen by the referee and caused loss of possession.
In your example say the defender is fouled as part of the back pass to the goalkeeper which say is missed by the on-field officials that can and should be penalised.
On other occasions the ball can be simply lost and the team now in possession make a mistake and gives up possession. VAR will not go back to any previous offence as any review has to shows a CLEAR ERROR i.e. not ‘was the decision correct?’‘ VAR is looking for match-changing’ decision and minor infringements should be detected by the match officials on the field.
A major underlying principle of VAR is that until the attacking team gained possession of the ball, their opponents had the ‘freedom’ to use the ball and thus any ‘missed’ event before they
lost possession could have been avoided. This concept is similar to the normal football situation where a defender has time to clear the ball but instead attempts a pass to
another defender which is intercepted by an attacker who then scores – the defender had possession and could have prevented the error which led to the goal.
Where the attacking team gained possession as a result of an offence or infringement of the Laws of the Game, the goal or penalty kick under review can only be overturned if the
referee made a clear error in failing to penalise the offence/infringement,
So in your example unless there was an infringement which led to loss of possession then VAR would not get involved. I would say a one touch back pass which is poorly executed would not be reviewed.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Crebs,
based on your question there are attacking scenarios in play that could be only partially completed. When player A3 kicks the ball upfield to start this attack ALL his teammates, including Player A9, will be examined for an offside position. If there is a PIOP then he will be restricted from further play UNTIL that special reset moment when Player B4 deliberately plays the ball uninhibited by any oppositional challenge. At that point EVEN if A9 was a PIOP that NEW touch by Player B4 as a deliberate play directing the ball albeit poorly back towards his keeper resets the attack thus allowing challenges and all opposition players are now able to join play. If A9 was not positionally restricted as nothing changes he is still free to pursue the ball. Where there could be an issue is if the officials felt the one-time pass was not deliberately played but rather a deflection or rebound of the ball, if A9 WAS a PIOP he COULD NOT join in the attack. Same if the B4 one-time touch was classified as a deliberate save. These 3 possibilities add some distortion to what is likely a mistake by a defender and the opposition can take advantage!

What is also true when B4 one time touches that ball, his own B team is ALSO looked at for the offside position of any of his players. It doesn't matter if the touch was deliberate or accidental by B4. If you grasp this you might be aware that while unlikely, BOTH teams could have PIOPs on the field at the same time!

As we have mentioned VAR is a new concept used only at the elite level which they continue to work the kinks out! Given they freeze-frame to review and replay in micro-seconds or micro-inches they could catch out certain official oversights but the concept is ONLY to review blatant miscues of justice and relay only critical match access creates no major LOTG disadvantages allowing play to lapse back into normal playing conditions there should be no reason for a stoppage especially if the aggrieved team is now the one in attacking or scoring opportunity mode.


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