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Question Number: 33110

Law 11 - Offside 3/3/2019

RE: Competitive Under 19

David Bermingham of Herndon, VA United States asks...

US MLS game Rockies vs Portland (
Defender goes down in the box. Shot deflects off his outstretched arm to team mates who are positioned offside when the shot was taken, who put it into the back of the net. Referee goes to VAR, awards PK gives the defender a red for DOGSO.
Question: If the oft-cited Esse training video instructs referees to see the outstretched arm as deliberate hence the handling offense, why does that deliberate play not reset offside and enable advantage? Then the outcome would be point scored and yellow to the defender? Seems that would be preferable and more in keeping with the Law. What am I missing?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
You are not missing anything and the referee got this wrong. While it is an attempt at a save it is done illegally and the Laws do not consider illegal handling by an outfield player as a save but rather a deliberate play. The Laws tell us that a deliberate play by an opponent is a reset. If Sojberg headed the ball to the PIOP the goal would have stood.
So the correct decision was to see the DHB as a deliberate play which is a reset of offside and award the goal. The player can still be cautioned for the deliberate handling.
Now there has been a debate about the merits of a penalty kick and a dismissal as more beneficial than awarding a goal and a caution. That is made on the assumption that the penalty kick results in a goal.
Now let us say it was a World Cup type Suarez incident with the exception that a goal was scored from the original play. Disallowing a goal can be the least beneficial decision for a team as Ghana can testify to. Imagine had the ball from the DHB fallen to an attacker in an offside position who scored and it was disallowed?
So somewhat disappointing that a FIFA official, an AR and a VAR official with time to consider got this wrong. I suspect the CR as he gave the goal without stopping play saw the lead AR stick up his flag for offside . Yes the scorer was in an offside position yet the DHB was a reset so the correct decision was to award the goal and a caution. He was correct on the second caution which resulted in a red card. The goal though should have stood.
Also the CR could have gone with a deflection / rebound if he decided it was not deliberate handling. It then had to be called offside for gaining an advantage by being in that position.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Dave,
I think I would agree that if the referee sees this as deliberate handling then he can judge it to be a deliberate play, apply the concept of advantage and allow the goal. I'm not sure that the Laws are crystal clear on this - it is not a scenario that is specifically addressed in the Laws document but logically it seems to make sense.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI David,
little to add but this is why advantage is such a good thing for the game. Here we SHOULD have a goal and the player need not be sent off assuming the opinion was it was deliberate handling but it resulted in a goal.. If it was NOT deemed deliberate then offside would apply but the defending player would NOT be sent off as it was accidental. The adage of a referee should interfere as little a possible is the correct one! The LOTG are designed to correct basic unfairness not establish rigid guidelines that do not require adjusting. It is feasible that if the defender was already on a caution prior to the DH a 2nd yellow card thus makes a red card for the 2 cautions.

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