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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34648

Law 11 - Offside 7/30/2022

RE: Rec Adult

Mark of Dublin, Ireland asks...

I would like the panel's opinion on the new offside advice issued recently by the IFAB

FIFA also published a number of videos which shows the advice in action. Some of the videos would not have been called offside in the recent past as they would have been viewed as deliberate plays by defenders.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark,

It is helpful that IFAB has provided advice on what constitutes a deliberate play in the reset of offside although I am of the opinion that it should have been done a long time ago. It is going to take a long time to undo the tactic knowledge gained by referees over many years as there many examples of resets in the past that under the new guidelines which will called offside.

For instance in Slide 8 which shows a not deliberate play which in the past would have been called as resets with play continuing.

For what its worth I think that the advice is more in keeping with the spirit of the game in that instances where an opponents touches the ball which only achieved limited contact or limited control is no longer seen as a deliberate play. In the past in game situations I always felt that these type of touches were not deliberate plays in the sense of resets.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mark ,
finally the instinctive reaction to WANT to play a through ball is NOT in of itself a deliberate CONTROLED play, this has ALWAYS been our opinion and we have constantly requested clarification and asked that it be fixed ever since they started to fiddle with it. Although we understand that GOALS are exciting and the reason they do fiddle with the game , trying to make it more exciting, it is UNFAIR that an attacker who is, OFF his SIDE by his position is NOT guilty of gaining an advantage when in fact that the restricted PIOP is still trying to participate and is benefiting from an INSTINCTIVE reaction of a defender who is desperately trying to stop or control a through ball more than having the time, position and luxury of a controlled event of what we call a deliberate play.

It helps put the onus on the referees' OPINION as to what constitutes offside as we can judge the defenders' efforts as instinctive reaction or a controlled mistake.

A slight redirect with a head flick by an attacker at goal is vastly different in terms of control than a defender simply jumping up or moving towards a ball trying to stop a through ball has it skim off his head that fails to significantly alter its direction or pace and yet the PIOP gets a free ride from a ball not truly controlled as it was being looked at as a deliberate effort, where in fact its an instinctive reaction, stretching to get to it, reacting to its proximity trying to intercept the ball with no actual way of gaining deliberate control .

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
Similarly to my colleagues (as far as I can glean from their reactions), I see this as a positive move. I felt in the past that the bar had moved a little too far in favour of seeing any touch by a defender that looked even vaguely like it was intentional as a deliberate play, meaning no offside offence was possible.

I agree with what the IFAB alludes to in their clarification, that these changes bring the interpretation of the law more in line with "what football expects."

I think one of the key sections of this document is where it says a deliberate play is:

"... not a case of instinctive stretching or jumping, or a movement that achieved limited contact/control"

In the recent past, it seemed that these instinctive movements were (more often than not) considered to be a deliberate play, resulting in a "not offside" call for the offside-positioned player. I believe these new definitions of what is and isn't a deliberate play will result in a fairer set of decisions overall.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,

The advice basically takes us back to where 'deliberate play' was a few years ago - although this time they've actually given some clear guidance, which was lacking in the past.

What it comes down to is - did the defender control the ball (even poorly), or could they reasonably have expected to control the ball?

Take Slide 7 - where a defender jumps to head a ball and it skims off the top of his head. The defender did the right thing in trying to head the ball, but the fact that he couldn't get enough height isn't his fault, so it's no longer a deliberate play.

There's another one where the defender had their view blocked until the ball was only a couple of yards away - again, you can't really say 'yeah, you should have controlled it' there. Similarly, there's another one with a lunging high leg.

So, I think this is much fairer to defenders because they're not getting punished for doing their job (which I argue the previous interpretation of any deliberate action that touched the ball did). However, it does reintroduce subjectivity into the decision, which naturally will cause some controversy.

I'm also unclear how this will connect to VAR decisions, given the Clear and Obvious level for VAR intervention on this subjective element.

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