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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34224

Mechanics 5/18/2021

RE: Rec Adult

Jonathan Wichmann of Copenhagen , Denmark asks...

I’m a but puzzled about a thing re VAR. When a call is made for offside all the tech analysis seems to be about the line, the defender and the attacker on the receiving end when the pass is made. However, there does not seem to be any discussion about this WHEN.

The thing is that the sender is in touch with the ball for a small period of time (of course), and according to my calculations a wrong placement of when the ball leaves the sender could easily translate into 10 cm on the receiving end - or more than enough to affect all close offside calls...

I couldn’t find anything on this, but if you search for a close-up in super slow motion of someone kicking a football you will see that the duration of the touch is fairly long and it's important to be very precise about when the ball leaves the foot.

A fraction of a second can make a significant difference when we are seeing offsides given by centimetres!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jonathan
Your point is well made and it is a matter of opinion based on the VARs view of the touch by the kicker using the technology available to the VAR team. The VAR operator tries to determine the exact second the ball leaves the player that last touched the ball. In high definition it is probably clearer to determine.
So yes on very tight offside calls that exact second can have a significant bearing on the call. Any video that I have seen shows the ball at or leaving the foot and that is then used to determine the position of the PIOP.
Personally I think it is just too technical and rather than using lines I believe it would be simpler to use a freeze frame view of the positions without lines. Does the PIOP look like he is offside or not rather than showing something that is determined in inches using coloured lines.
We can be sure though that VAR protocols have looked closely at this and that a policy position has been agreed. For the vast majority of offside call it is a non issue as it is clear cut positioning. On the very tight ones it is a judgement call and some for me are just too tight even for technology. I expect a change on this in the near future to make it less controversial on the very tight ones.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jonathan,
in the old days, we were told, "When in doubt do not wave it about!", in deference to the raising of flags for offside infractions because it was understood the physically the human eyes cannot accurately judge placement of body parts at high speeds in opposing directions while calculating the exact moment the ball was last touched by the team mate. In other words, allow some latitude on close decisions because via eyesight we tended to be wrong more than right. The issue with VAR is they can FREEZE frame the match to the exact millisecond and correlate the body position of the PIOP to the exact moment the ball is last touched by the teammate to within millimeters. The fact is they can with certainty give accurate readings of both ball touch & player positioning and compare them using advanced technology to make it YES or NO with no ambivalence in the decision. Granted it does not allow a poor decision but it sure as hell makes mincemeat out of what we normally would have awarded as a non-decision.

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Offside Question?

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

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