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Question Number: 33583

Law 11 - Offside 8/19/2019

RE: Rec Adult

John Ashworth of cambridge, Cambridgeshire UK asks...

As I understand it, a player is offside if he is in an offside position at the moment that the ball is kicked by the passing player. That moment is when the passing player's boot first touches the ball.
VAR imagery concentrates exclusively on the body position of the receiver. But it seems to me that marginal differences in a decision on the precise moment the ball is kicked will also affect an offside verdict.
So how does VAR decide when the ball is kicked? And why is that moment not subjected to the same level of on screen scrutiny by VAR as the position of the receiver?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI John,
in as much as offside is a yes or no question! I believe VAR has essentially freaked out the recreational referee as we are NEVER going to achieve that level of certainty. So the 'WHEN IN DOUBT DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT!' is STILL the correct way to referee recreational soccer!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

hi John
VAR has considered this and it is covered in the Laws.
Test have shown that slow motion shows a detectable difference between the first and last contact with the ball so a definition of the precise moment that the ball is 'played' was needed when judging offside position.
Law 11 now states that the first point of contact of the 'play' or 'touch' of the ball by the passing player should be used
It is also important to know that there are offside only cameras which have been accurately calibrated by the technology provider to give the wide angle view that accurately measures both touch and position.
So in essence the technology is extremely accurate and probably too accurate as shown by the recent Raheem Sterling disallowed goal. The issue is not with the technology rather than what is being measured. It was never intended that inches would determine offside using technology.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
The IFAB has included wording specifically to cover this aspect of the offside determination. As ref McHugh says, the law now clearly states that:

''The first point of contact of the 'play' or 'touch' of the ball should be used.''

As far as I am aware, this is subjected to exactly the same level of scrutiny as the 'offside line.' This may not be too obvious from the images we see, since there is no need to draw lines and compare them on screen, as there is only one point at issue. However the VAR chooses the exact moment that the player first makes contact with the ball using the same technology, with the same level of accuracy, as is used for the position of the 'receiving' player.

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Offside Question?

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

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