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Question Number: 31788

Mechanics 9/14/2017

RE: Under 18

john of new orleans, la usa asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31774

I understand your reasonings for why you think this is not a great practice. I adopted it after having a number of instances where the player has had it hit the upright, come down to the goal line, and be a question if it was a goal or not, both as a center and as the AR it happened to.

With regards to 'if the AR is good, or how they get back into position', I do higher level games with good referees and basically right after the kick, they run a few yards up right back to second to last defender position.

With regards to 'the center's line of sight being affected for fouls', this is where the fact it is taken so close to the penalty box comes in. All players (attacking and defending) basically line up exactly together on a line on kicks that close to the goal, so by taking the offside line and opening my stance, I can see what is going on inside the wall as well.

I have had a few instances where I called offside as the center and the coach questioned it, but upon explaining it to him that I had my AR take the goal line because it was a kick I knew the player could reach the goal and I wanted to not miss his player possibly scoring a goal, so i took the offside line, he was understanding and thanked me for a practice he does not commonly see.

I understand that your guys' responses are more on the side of 'they are against what the official rules say', and I would not do this in a game that was being judged by any sort of referee grading or anything like that, but in the competitive but not exactly world class level games I do, my unorthodox method has seemed to make it run better than the normal correct way.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
As my good colleague Referee Dawson says Your Game, Your decision, Your reputation.
I have experimented with many positions myself over the years when on my own. Some worked out on a particular day which placed me perfectly to make a call. Most other times I felt it did not make the difference needed to justify such a constant positioning in every single game. So the benefits on one particular decision did not outweigh the downsides of changed positioning. One swallow does not make a summer as they say.
As regards hair line goals those happen in games from time to time not just from free kicks. Most recent high profile one that I can think of was Frank Lampard for England v Germany in South Africa. It was not given and so be it. That is part of the game.
Over many years I have witnessed many shots off the crossbar most of which even viewed from the 18 yard line or thereabouts and I could see that they had not crossed the line. Those that were close were such a difficult call that I even doubt that an AR could say for certain if it crossed the line of not viewing it on the line. Even AARs have got such calls wrong standing beside the goal! Okay it might and a big might *assure* those that question the onfield decision that the correct call was made yet from experience that is not always the case, far from it. Advice also tells us that the only credible viewing position is on or close to the goal line so if the offside line is 18 yards out it is no easy few yards to recover.
I would also say that we do not have to be slaves to the conventional or not adjust our positioning based on the game. In a recent game a player complained that a thrower was encroaching at throw ins and with club linesmen they do not flag such situations just ball in and out. I was positioned for the subsequent play and I told the player I was on my own but I would keep an eye. On the next throw I moved to view the line which showed a blatant foot fault. No complaint from the throwing team and I was good to my word which proved to the player that I would give what I could see. I also tell players at times I am not Superman and we cannot be everywhere, every time. Players get that.
My final word on it is that the advice is never to plan for outliers. Statistically on 100 free kick shots in the Premier Leagur Pro game 5 are scored then how many will result in a downward cross bar hit? Is it then an efficient use of refereeing resources including positioning to plan for an outlier of perhaps less than 0.1 percent and that it may even be missed it happens that fast. Even the Pro game has now decided that technology is the way forward due to human judgement frailties of the top AR with undoubted abilities.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi John,
I find that on the free kick the rapid movement of the incoming players and a mixture of onside offside participants creates greater problems on the follow up then the possibility of a unwitnessed goal on a close decision. In an effort to help support my ARs in training I often positioned myself down across from the AR deep inside the defending zone on LONG throw ins and got ridiculed by those who claim that I MUST be at the top of the penalty area to get proper view. YET I found by anticipating the long throw into the penalty area , as it was delivered I could run in an arc back into the supposed correct position. I had a better view and used the ball time in the air to station myself back outside the PA near the top of the arc and follow play. As a single official I used to stand on the actual goal line on corner kicks to see if the ball curved out or in. Again a curved arc run back outside the PA looking in . The issue with both positions was recovery to a quick counter attack if the planned attacking play lost control.

I will say this in your & my defence, when we deviate from the norm our gut instinct at times puts onus on our experience to anticipate the unusual out of the ordinary and to be where you need to be to make the call. While they have tracked the referee movement patterns and they have determined you have better all around angles of view from the normal positions sometimes it is that adjusted run to get a look in on something often hidden where you catch the best seat in the house. Just understand your angle of view is LIMITED to where you are, the normal positioning allows for the greatest possibilities not every eventuality.

Also each match will create its OWN personality . I had a tough men's match where I felt it slipping but could not really grasp why . . At the first half one player was limping I asked you ok? He stripped down his sock to show blood and gashes along the back & side of his ankle . Wow I asked what the hell did I miss there? He claimed on the corner and free kicks there was this sneaky step along the back of the ankle as they were facing the ball In the following half I readjusted my position to get in behind on a free kicks or along the goal line to get a better view of the feet . Now I had to run my butt off to get back on a couple of quick counter attacks but I awarded a PK in the area and two other fouls for the kind of attacks that I had completely missed in the first half. I also moved a great deal in an arc or S pattern in between the players before whistling restarts checking on the players, who was marking who and how tight they were to each other paying attention to their feet even as they went to head the ball . Tricky blighters these players at hiding their indiscretions!


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
I think the previous answers and the ones here have given numerous good reasons why this is not the recommended or official practice. And it's not just because it's the official line. Rather, I would say it's the official line because of the practical reasons in favour of it. Over a hundred years of accumulated refereeing experience throughout the world has gone into developing the guidelines currently used. It's not only the IFAB, it's every refereeing (and match officials) organisation and every set of refereeing/AR training material that I am aware of, that endorses the principle of the AR remaining in line with the second last defender at a free kick.

I really do think that if your idea actually was more effective, enough others would have noticed it by now that it would have become recommended and accepted practice but I think the fact that it isn't, should tell you something.

As ref McHugh points out, basing your approach on the exceptional, outlier situation rather than the statistically much more likely scenario may not be the wisest course of action.

If it's not too much of a strained analogy, to me it's somewhat akin to the argument that I used to hear from a friend of my sister's that since he knew of cases where a person had been thrown clear of a car in an accident and survived, and other cases where a person had been trapped in a car by their seat belt and died, therefore it was better not to wear a seat belt when in the front seat of a car.

My response to him was always that while it's true that some such cases are known, it doesn't alter the fact that statistically, you're much, much safer in a car accident when wearing a seat belt than when not wearing one - and I think the same basic principle applies here.

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