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Question Number: 32220

Law 11 - Offside 2/8/2018

RE: Adult

Mike of Liverpool, United Kingdom asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32218

Its ridiculous that we have a rule that is so subjective! It needs to be changed either way so that it is clear for everyone.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
It is only subjective in certain outlier situations. If the ball is deliberately played then it is a reset of offside. As Referee Grove points out the first goal by Salah was from a ball played by Dier even though Salah was probably 3/4 yards in an offside position when it was played. Dier did not mean to play it to Salah and no debate about that one. The Lovren one because it was not so obvious and Kane was closer and also unintentional attracted much more debate. Was it technically any different. Ball still kicked by Lovren to a PIOP.
Maybe the way to sort it is to say that if the ball is touched by an opponent other than a save it is reset every single time?
Also the game has to move on to understand that being in an offside position is not an offence and that the notion that as the ball is intended for a player in an offside position other factors have to be taken into account.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Black and white might be definitive but both bleed red. The intangibles of a dive versus a sell of a foul versus a foul that is not easy to spot versus an easy to spot foul all hinges on line of sight and understanding of the LOTG
It is NOT an offence to be offside positioned.

Your anger at a fact of play that is SUBJECTIVE to an OPINION as to whether it should be a deflection versus a deliberate play to reset offside is NO different then the distinction made every time a ball and hand or hand and ball contact occurs. I can show you numerous incidents where it is a 50% more or less either way by those viewing the incident.

I maintain that unless you as referee are CERTAIN it is a foul then it is NOT a foul!

I maintain that unless you as referee are CERTAIN it was deliberate then it is not deliberate!

I maintain the ONLY consideration to be deliberate is if the referee sees that it is by whatever criteria he or she is using.
For me it is ALWAYS a matter of SATS
Speed, How fast is the ball moving?
Awareness, Is the line of sight altered or changed?
Time, Does the player have enough time to make a clear decision!
Space, Is there room to move towards or away!

I maintain there is a CLEAR difference between a deliberate action that results in a mistake and an instinctive reaction that results in contact causing a deflection or rebound.

I maintain a referee with integrity sees what he sees even if we see it different best accept it or agree to disagree and move on!


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mike,
Many, many parts of the law are subjective and depend on the opinion of the referee. Arguably the most subjective aspect of the law is in the area of handling offences. Even though there is some guidance in the Laws (a list of factors that a referee must consider), judging whether a player has deliberately handled the ball is still extremely subjective. Almost every handling offence is up for debate - and many, many fouls are debatable also. Deciding if a specific challenge was illegal or not is not always clear cut.

So in fact, having debatable areas in the law is nothing unusual. While I have said I would like to see some guidance on it, of all these 'subjective' areas of the law, the deliberate play vs deflection one is probably not the most troublesome. As my colleagues have pointed out, it is often totally clear (much clearer, for instance, than most potential handling offences) when a play is deliberate.

For example, in the same game as the Lovren incident, there was a goal scored by Mohammed Salah where the ball was played to him by Spurs player Eric Dier. It was overwhelmingly clear that Dier had deliberately played the ball so there was no controversy or debate over the Salah goal. Most times, the situation is probably more like the Salah goal than the Lovren/Kane incident.

Doesn't mean that it still wouldn't be nice to have some additional guidelines from the IFAB though.

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

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