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Question Number: 32909

Law 11 - Offside 12/9/2018

RE: Rec Adult

russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

Keen to here the panels thoughts on the offside call against Alexandre Lacazette in the Arsenal v Huddersfield match.

Clearly in an offside position when the ball was last played by Aubameyang.

This looks like the perfect opportunity to discuss 'interfering with an opponent by...'

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Russell,
in the opinion of the AR it looks as if the PIOP is close enough while challenging and thus is affecting the defender thus offside occurs before the defender touches the ball. That is the only conclusion to draw.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Yes interfering with an opponent for me
The LotG list interfering with an opponent by:
# 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 when this action impacts on an opponent or
# making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball .
I would say the third bullet point covers it.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
I know you appreciate the finer points of the law and enjoy a debate on the complexities of it so let me just play devil's advocate here and say that I can see an argument that Lacazette does not actually challenge for the ball, nor clearly attempt to play it, nor make an obvious action that clearly affects the opponent's ability to play the ball (with emphasis on the words 'obvious action' and 'clearly affects') until after the opponent had already gained clear control of the ball and deliberately played it. When the last touch on the ball by a team mate (Aubameyang) occurs, Lacazette seems to lose sight of the ball and turns away from it slightly. The ball then falls to the opponent who has (just) enough time and space to control it - and does so. The defender then chooses to make a back pass but underhits it and Lacazette intercepts the pass.

So unless you think that Lacazette did enough, in the time between the touch by Aubameyang and the time the defender controlled the ball and deliberately played it back towards his keeper, to constitute 'interfering with an opponent' then you could say that Lacazette actually received the ball from a deliberate play by an opponent, so was not guilty of an offside offence. Now, I think that as my colleague ref McHugh says, there is a good argument that he did do enough to be seen as interfering with an opponent and so I'm not too surprised that this was given as an offside offence.

What I would say is that back in the days when I was first refereeing in the 80's, this would almost definitely have been given offside, but with the emphasis the IFAB currently places on the opponent having to clearly, directly and almost physically affect the opponent's ability to play the ball, this one could be seen as falling into a slightly grey area, as it could be said that Lacazette's full involvement in the play did not occur until the opponent had already controlled the ball, at which point a new phase of play had begun.

I also think that had the referee not given the offside, it would have been a technically permissible judgement call under the law as currently written, but it would be an example of where the current wording of the offside law is perhaps a little at odds with what many players, spectators and even referees would think is the true 'spirit of the game' when it comes to offside.

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Offside Question?

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

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