The offside returns to the center of the debate in the world of football

At the age of 96, rule XI of the soccer commandments, historically considered the most complicated to apply by the referee trio, continues to generate controversy. With the arrival of the VAR, offside actions have lost much of their prominence due to the cushion of knowing that the images will end up delimiting the situations, but there is still room for error. The assistants were advised not to raise the flag until the end of the play and thus, in case of doubt, the new technology solves the actions with more or less precision. Roll the corresponding stripes and a high percentage of plays are resolved with a happy ending, even if only by millimeters.

However, the rule in question, widely surpassed in prominence in recent times by the omnipresence achieved by the plays in which the arms and hands come into play, has invaded the news again with Mbappé’s goal against Spain in the Nations League final and a debate has once again been generated about the true spirit of the rule and the multiple interpretations added in recent years that have caused a profound division of opinions.

The offside phenomenon wasn’t dead, just numb. The constraints and qualifications that have been constantly added to rule XI are precisely the trigger for the disparity of criteria that arose from the play in question.

There have been enough ex-collegiate members in many international cases who have come to the fore to defend the spirit of the rule and show their disagreement with the constant constraints that all seasons are added to the regulation as such. Iturralde González assures that in recent years 186 comments have been added to the different rules.

Iturralde assures that 186 comments have been added to the rules


Soriano Aladrén, former World Cup collegiate and former member of the UEFA Refereeing Commission, proclaims that Mbappé’s offside does not understand times and that as such he should have been sanctioned and he does not understand how Taylor, the match judge, could tell Eric Garcia that if he had stood still, the French forward would have been offside. “It is an attack on the power of the footballer to play the ball. The International Board (IB) is losing its prestige for allowing the FIFA and UEFA Commissions, even the domestic ones of each country, to have such a leading role in the elaboration of the interpretations. They don’t keep the spirit they always had. “

Soriano believes that the International Board loses prestige for being permissive


Another international referee who prefers to remain anonymous simply asks a question. “If the ball touched by the defender in the way that Eric García did had reached Unai Simón, would it have been considered a loan to the goalkeeper? No, because there was no will to play towards the goalkeeper, but to clear. Therefore, Mbappé’s position must be sanctioned. “

All this controversy arises about the offside just at the moment in which FIFA is in a phase of applying new technologies to ensure that the linesmen receive directly, and not through the referee, information that allows them make ‘semi-automatic decisions’ that limit the waiting time in the VAR reviews and that are tried to be put into practice in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as stated Arsene Wenger, now director of development at the highest international body. “On average, we have to wait around 70 seconds, sometimes 1 minute and 20 seconds. It is very important to reduce the time because we see that many goal celebrations are later canceled by marginal situations. The new system could detect the pass and locate instantly the position of the target player for the pass. This technology, based on artificial intelligence, would allow the referees to make their decision immediately. Without waiting more than a minute. “

On the other hand, its public proposal to modify the rule itself, it does not seem that it can be put into practice at least soon. The former Arsenal technician defended a new theory. “A player would not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the body are ahead. There would no longer be decisions by millimeters. Goals are disallowed for being fractions centimeter ahead, literally by a nose. Time to change this and be quick. ” Days after publicly exposing his thesis, to the discomfort of the International Board, he had to make a clarification with visible signs of backtracking.

Voices against. While FIFA works on these solutions, voices continue to be heard requesting the elimination of this rule XI, considering that its abolition would improve aspects of the game. The former Dutch striker Van basten, a three-time Ballon d’Or and who worked until 2018 as FIFA’s director of technical development with special attention to the rules of the game and new technologies, has been resounding in this regard. “I am convinced that the offside rule is not good. I would like to experiment with its elimination to show that football is also possible without that rule. I think the game would be better. The mission of defending would be much more difficult: there could be one or more players more advanced to put the ball in attack. The attacking team needs to be more vigilant than it currently is because the field would get bigger – there are more options for players in possession to explore. People want action. How long does it take to discuss whether a player is offside or not? Too!”.

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“I think soccer is also possible without that rule”

Van basten

Former English player Gary Lineker, now a fashion commentator, on his country’s television has questioned the different interpretations that have been added to the rule itself. “The new law is absurd. The legislators of our game have really overcomplicated things in recent years, both with the offside and with the hands. It was always a bad idea for the referees to decide the rules of the game instead. to simply referee. “

Some inconsistencies in the regulation

Ball onto the field from the bench.

According to article 101.2 of the Regulations, if a ball is thrown onto the field of play from a bench and the perpetrator of the offense is not located by the referee quartet, the referee is obliged to expel the coach of the team in question, even if he knows for sure. certain that the technician has not been the protagonist of the action. In addition, he will be punished with a minimum of three suspension games. This situation was experienced by Simeone in April 2016 in an Atlético-Málaga played at the Vicente Calderón. The match referee, Mateu Lahoz, explained the action in the refereeing act as follows: “In minute 45, coach Diego Pablo Simeone González (Coach) was sent off for the following reason: In minute 44, on the occasion of an attack by the Club Málaga CF SA a ball was launched from the area of ​​the local bench into the field of play towards the place where the official ball was located, without impacting it, attesting that the author of the launch was not the first coach of the offending team ”. The coach was suspended with three games despite the fact that the referee in his minutes released him from any responsibility in the action. Team A and team B face each other and the referee signals a foul against the second. The player from team A who takes the free-kick plays with his goalkeeper, who at that moment is distracted, is not perceived by the play and the ball ends up entering his goal without being touched by anyone. The regulations indicate that this action must not be considered as an own goal but as a corner and the game must be resumed with a corner kick in favor of team A.

Offside penalty.

A player in an offside position starts to receive the ball that has been passed to him by a teammate and, being in that illegal position, is caught by a defender who tries to obstruct his movement in search of the ball. According to the regulations, this action must be sanctioned with a penalty and the forward’s offside position is not taken into account. In that situation, it is considered to be offside when it interferes or gains an advantage.

Cádiz-Barcelona Party.

A second ball enters the field of play and falls in the vicinity of Busquets who throws it in the direction of the ball that is in play at the feet of an opposing player. The referee warns the Barça player with a yellow card for his illegal action. If that same play had happened within the area, it would have been punished with a penalty against the team whose player commits the offense. In this case maximum penalty in favor of Cádiz. However, if that same action is committed by a player who is warming up on the band and introduces a second ball into the field, the play must be punished with a red card.

Penalty from a player who warms up.

A substitute player warms up behind one of the funds and a ball reaches his domain that will go out the back line without any teammate or opponent being able to dispute it. To gain time because his team is losing, he enters the field of play and touches it in the direction of his goalkeeper and thus speed up the goal kick. With the regulations in hand, for his action the player in question will be punished with a yellow card and a penalty will be awarded against his team.

This move took place in October 2019 in a Second Bundesliga match between Kiel and Bochum. The referee of the match was notified by the VAR of the action and immediately admonished the Kiel player and awarded a penalty in favor of Bochum.

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