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Question Number: 33121

Law 11 - Offside 3/6/2019

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Babbage of Hjorring, Denmark asks...

Im looking for some clarification regarding the recent incident in the Spurs v Arsenal match. The ball comes into the box to towards Kane. If I recall correctly, Kane went towards the ball and was looking to head it in. He then got a shove in the back from Mustafi and a penalty was given. My first thought was he was only in an offfside position, so not offside. He was then fouled, so yes a penalty. However Im thinking that if a player is attempting to score ( which I think Kane was ) from an offside position a free-kick should be awarded.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
I think the first thing to mention is that Kane was not adjudged to have been offside in the incident in question, so the issue (which would have been whether he had interfered with an opponent) never actually arose.

So what we're talking about is a hypothetical of what might have happened, had VAR been in use in this game.

The relevant part of the offside law here is (I think) the following section from Law 11:

''In situations where:
a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence''

So even if Kane was ''attempting to score,'' I think that since he never actually attempted to play the ball (he was never close enough to it to do so) the law is clear that this is not enough to constitute an offside offence. The more interesting debate here (and there's been a fair amount of it) is whether he was ''challenging an opponent for the ball.''

In my opinion, he was not (others have taken an opposing view). For me, up until the point where he was fouled, I don't think he's done enough for me, for it to constitute ''challenging an opponent'' - all he's doing is waiting for the ball to arrive. If anything, it's the opponent that challenges him (and barges into him from behind) not the other way round, as far as I can tell.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
The AR missed the offside position of Kane so that was not a consideration in the subsequent decision. He could not see it from his position?
I have heard the arguments about even if the AR saw the offside position that it would be a foul rather than offside based on the wording provided by Referee Grove. Law 11 also tells us ** an offence is committed against a player in an offside position who is already playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the offside offence is penalised as it has occurred before the foul challenge** He mentions that there are opposing views based on both wordings and I would take the view that Kane is sandwiched in between the two Arsenal players and he was attempting to play the ball by heading it so that for me was in active play and offside.
If we take the Mustafi foul out of the equation my opinion is that Kane has interfered with play based on the premise that Kane action could fit in either of these two
# 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 believe that if the AR had seen the Kane offside position he would have flagged Kane at the moment the ball got to the location of the three players where they converged to try to play the ball which was also the location of the Mustafi foul My own view is that in the Law reference the key word is BEFORE. I would have had no difficulty in the PK if the Mustafi action happened between the 18 yard line and the area of action for the ball.
I recall a recent similar one in the Schalke v Manchester City Champions League game where a PIOP was hauled to the ground away from the ball. Clearly the correct decision was a penalty kick. That was a VAR call
The image in the picture clearly show that the foul was committed inside the penalty area before the Schalke player could even attempt to interfere with play or an opponent and hence such offence must be punished with the awarding of a free kick or a penalty kick not offside. That is the whole basis of the Law as worded and in my opinion the basis for the difference.
But hey it is not crystal clear. It is ITOOTR and if VAR was available I wonder what the outcome would have been. We will never know and I suppose the referee crew can say that they got it the decision right based on the first wording in Law 11. If offside was given I would say that they could also say that they were also right based on the second wording!
FWIW it was a stupid action by Mustafi who did not know the possible offside position of Kane and it ran the huge risk of a penalty kick. Players have to realise that such actions may have gone unpunished in the past yet the laws of the game are catching up with them based on acceptance that obvious fouls due to the scrutiny they receive are increasingly getting called in real time or through VAR.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
misconduct is what it is . The fact that Kane was slightly offside positioned thus ineligible to play the ball is cause for thought. There was some discussion on the recent GM of IFAB to consider the trunk of the body not the extremities but that is a discussion another time.

There is reason to consider both sides of this equation.

The LOTG do state it is NOT an offence to be on an offside position UNLESS there is INVOLVEMENT on the part of the player who IS restricted.
Here we ask ourselves did KANE INVOLVE himself in active play?
The fact is he was pushed by a defender!
If we say he was struck by an elbow or fist as violent conduct versus just a pushing foul would you be more willing to award the PK?

The LOTG do state that we are in fact to punish a foul or misconduct that occurs against a PIOP provided that PIOP was NOT involved in active play by interfering with the opponents or touching the ball.

I personally side with my colleague Ref McHugh!
I hold that Kane was engaged in an obvious action, clearly impacting the ability of an opponent to play the ball he is clearly preparing or attempting to play a ball in its way to him & this action has impact on the surrounding opponents.

The change from considering offside at position in earlier days to involvement which occurs later created this conundrum.

What I dislike is the concept was to NOT stop a legal goal from occurring because some guy was lollygagging at the corner of the PA tying his shoe who had ZERO impact on play. It is not to award PK out of an opportunity that was not possible?

I think we can clearly demonstrate KANE had definite impact on play. If there was a need to punish the foul it would be as misconduct for USB a caution. INDFK out.

'Although Law 11 states a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalized as it has occurred before the offside offence' Take our PIOP standing at the corner of the PA tying his shoe a defender run over and kicks him while play is inside the PA most definitely a foul . While this is the reasoning to not award an INDFK and award the PK think on the fact that by his running into the position he took interferes with the position the defenders are taking in preparing to challenge in they must also move around him to not run into him . As a PIOP he is NOT supposed to be actively participating in play, I believe he clearly does so. Yes a referee can point to the wording of the LOTG to say I am right to award the PK but by the spirit of the game & the reasoning for the law I think it was INDFK out!

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