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Question Number: 33437

Law 11 - Offside 6/11/2019

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

The potential problem with delayed offside calls when VAR is in use.

The recent Australia v Italy Womens WC match highlights a potential major issue with the directive to hold off on indicating offside, until a goal is scored or play breaks down " injuries to players.
Watch how the Matilda's keeper (Williams) and Italian attacker (Bonansea) collide. It is all very well to get the 'call right' " but if either or both of these key players were to be seriously injured in that phase of play - we could not be surprised at the outcry.
Fortunately there was no such issue, and, yes, on this occasion the offside was close, yet there are many occasions where the offside appears rather obvious (certainly at this level of officiating) but the wait is employed.
It is hard to imagine VAR is going to go away, so hopefully in years to come, we will have learnt from some of the issues of these early days.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,

I agree that not calling offside because the VAR might be able to get it later is fraught with danger (As a fellow Aussie, I'm sure I don't need to remind you about the 2017/18 A-League Grand Final - for those who didn't see it, a single goal was scored all game - a goal which was offside, the AR let it go - though we don't know if it was 'left for the VAR' or just missed - and there were technical difficulties meaning the VAR wasn't able to review it).

For this incident, given how tight it was I'd be fine if the AR had just missed it - but you're right; the instruction ARs receive with VAR, even if the AR here was certain it was offside she likely would have left it for the VFR. And I'd agree that this is another reason why it's a problem.

Think about a similar situation, one we all see often on the weekend - where a ball is put through, there's an attacker running onto it, offside, and it's probably 60/40 in the keeper's favour (maybe it's 50-50). This is the one case where we would call it early - rather than wait to see if the attacker interferes - because we want to prevent the collision between keeper and attacker. Yet, now if that happens in a VAR match and it's close, the opposite instruction would seem to apply.

Given the instruction to 'delay' making a decision if it might become VAR-pertinent is becoming more widespread I can't see it being recalled, but it's one new practice in refereeing that I really dislike.

Unfortunately, I can see the argument in favour of that approach; if the whistle is blown a moment before the ball goes in the goal, it can't be taken back even if the flag is wrong.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
One of the downsides of VAR is as you describe the potential for contact between a PIOP and an opponent.
The view is that if the flag goes up and it is incorrect it cannot be taken back whereas if play is allowed to continue on tight calls the VAR review will decide the outcome.
In this instance say the flag went up and it was onside then the attacking team has been deprived of a potential goal or goal scoring opportunity. I really see no way around it and the game has to accept that there will be occasional contact between players in these tight offside scenarios.
The only concern I have is that ARs with VAR get lazy and do not flag even the obvious offside yet wait for the review. I watched a VAR review recently and the PIOP was 2/3 yards offside yet no flag until after the review was conveyed.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Russel,
you are spot on.
The best not get caught being wrong rather than attempt at being right.
If the flag up is early or incorrect but play is permitted and a goal is scored with the flag up but not whistled, if the VAR determines it was ok it would stand as long as the whistle had not sounded until after the goal was scored.
Whereas if play is stopped for the flag the VAR review is not going to occur. A VAR review NEEDS the play to unfold! As Ref McHugh points out then the attacking team has been deprived of a potential goal or goal scoring opportunity. So this trade off will cause ARs some issues.

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Offside Question?

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

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