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Question Number: 35239

Law 11 - Offside 11/20/2023

RE: Adult

George Makridis of Thessaloniki, Greece Greece asks...

Greetings from Greece. I simply want an expert's opinion on this. The link is . If you don't trust links you can search on YouTube for 'PAOK AEK goal Varela'. It is a 1:01 video from user Stavros Sountoulidis (a reporter). The match was almost 6 years ago and nobody in Greece has provided a definite answer and a firm conclusion on this. It is a header by No5 (Varela) that founds the net following a corner cick. My personal opinion is that the goal should be rewarded because the No8 wearing a black and white shirt does not obstruct the goalkeeper's line of vision or impacts on his ability to reach the ball. So we have a goal or offside? I would be grateful if you answer. Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George.
we did investigate that incident back in the day. You are correct there was no definitive yes or no as to offside. It would come down to an OPINION as to what the referee, at that moment looking in, saw it as an in close challenge that affected the keeper or possibly caused another defender to be knocked into the keeper's path.

I agree, a case could be made without the dude being there, a goal would have scored anyway. Yet looking in the AR from the side would have seen a near collision so perspectives are skewed in what one notices in a blink of an eye.

It is true restricted players in offside positions are NOT automatically queued for an INDFK they need to be INVOLVED! You can certainly see he was trying to get involved then tried very hard to not be.

It is much easier as an armchair referee to dissect, roll back, slow, start, multiple angles and then think what we MIGHT have called in REAL time?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
Thanks for the question.
Greek football will be talking about this incident for a very long time!!

The reason no definitive opinion can be given is that it is a subjective decision meaning that it is in the opinion of the referee on the day and in more recent times with assistance from VAR.

Now what we can say is that the attacking player close to the goal line is in an offside position. That is a matter of fact based on the line shown.

Now the second part to consider is whether that player interfered with play by touching the ball or interfering with an opponent meeting one of the four conditions set out in Law 11.
I believe we can rule out a touch on the ball by the player in an offside position so there is no interfering with play so we are left with interfering with an opponent which states the following conditions
# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
# challenging an opponent for the ball or
# clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent to play the ball
# making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

We can rule out the first three conditions of line of sight along with challenging for the ball and attempting to play the ball so we are left to consider whether the action clearly impacted on an opponents ability to play the ball.
Now we have to consider that this all happened without VAR so the assistant referee had to judge this from some 30 metres away at speed. His angle of view would have shown the goalkeeper and attacker almost coming together. He would have seen the offside position of the player close to the line. Video can show what transpired more definitively which is why we now have VAR.
The referee decided after consulting with the assistant that it was offside and the decision prompted the game to be abandoned. Looking back on it I felt the offside call should have been quicker and clearer without the need for any delay. It looked like the goal had been awarded and that the assistant opined that there was the player in an offside position which was correct and had second thoughts about interfering with an opponent which was advised to the referee and they both decided offside was the call.

In years gone by this would have been clearly offside and I would say that in lower levels of the game there is a high chance that offside would be called offside without VAR based really on the player in an offside position being so close to the ball and the diving goalkeeper. I believe VAR would perhaps allow for a different outcome as it can be viewed from multiple angles, freeze frame, player reactions etc.

I might finish by saying that in a PL game a few seasons ago between Liverpool and Bournemouth a goal was scored that had a question of offside in it by Benteke.

The referee body after the game opined that it should have been called offside as the player in an offside position interfered with an opponent in this case the goalkeeper by his action close to the through ball. The scorer was clearly onside.
Here is another one
So the game has many offside interpretations some which can go either way on the day.

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Offside Question?

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

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