Date: 8th February 2008 at 12:57pm
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The Arsenal back four were always famous for raising their hands in unison as they took a step forward and trapped a player offside.

This was of course in the George Graham days when he welded his defence into a tightly knit unit.

These days I need to ask if you understand the offside law then raise your hand. As most of you will read this I do not want to fuddle those brains but does anyone understand the law as it is supposed to be interpreted by the officials.

Let’s look back at last weekend’s games and some of the decisions to see whether the law is being applied consistently. First let’s go to Fratton Park (of course) and a look at the Chelsea goal. When the ball was played long by Claude Makelele to Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka was clearly offside and active as he ran on and scored in the same phase of play and therefore the goal should have been disallowed. Chelsea fans would rightly say that Jermain Defoe was marginally offside when he scored the equaliser but I am afraid two wrongs do not make a right.

Now to Ewood Park where Andy Johnson had a goal disallowed that would have won an important game for Everton. Johnson had returned from an offside position before he scored from James Vaughan’s pass but no one including referee Alan Wiley could answer the question – when did Johnson became active? Both managers here had, understandably, different opinions of the incident. David Moyes felt the linesman got it wrong – saying ‘there was no confusion it was just the wrong decision’; his opposite number Mark Hughes felt Wiley had had a bad game and ‘the offside was the only decision he got right’.

Finally at St James Park in my opinion the Middlesbrough goal should have been chalked off. Julio Arca crossed from the right and Robert Huth rose above Stephen Carr to head the equaliser. Fine, no problem, there then but on the replay you spot that as Arca crossed Lee Dong Gook was in an offside position and rather than retreat and let the game carry on he remained active and made every attempt to get his head on the cross. Result goal should have been disallowed. There were a lot of bad decisions in that game to be honest – Owen did not foul the keeper and Wheater was not offside when scoring on the rebound of the bar.

Note to the FA – Please sort it out before this subsides into a farce. We must have consistency!!

Written by eastneydave.

The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.

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30 Replies to “The ‘Offside Rule’”

  • this was meant as part of dave’s sunday toast coming up this sunday, however it was agreed that it might be better to do this seperately – and tbh i am glad that we have as it is a crackin’ read and i feel it might have either detracted from the rest of that article, or not been appreciated enough… either way as said a crackin’ read, and well worth a look.

  • Quite happy to do that. Don’t forget your Toast on Sundays though folks – I am away so say whet you like!!

  • this whole phase thing causes so many arguments. cant it just be when the ball is played, is he offside, and does he interfer with play. surely this is the most sensible resolution?

  • i just used to like it when it was nice and simple you were either offside or not… granted ‘some’ of the changes have been a good thing, but as these ‘new rules’ are not carried out all the time then they are not really working are they…

  • as well as this the subs rule has changed as of next season. we are just moving towards a european super league. you can’t have different amount of subs in different leagues in the same constitution. what happens with fa cup? lower leagues will want 5 subs, premier league teams 7 subs. anyway the simpler the offside rule is the better it is for fans and refs alike. we might not get so angry at them if everyone was clear on one simple rule.

  • I dont like this interfering with the play business. If a striker is attacking he is always interfering with the play because the defense cant just forget about him, he can always be a decoy and he affects the play. The rule should be simplified, and if the person who was offside but not involved in the play comes into to play, the offside should then be called and play stopped.

  • I’m quite proud of being a girl who understands the offside rule – well sort of – they have really overcomplicated it, and this being ‘active’ business is a nonsense. I quote that famous old sc*mmer Lawrie McMenemy ‘if he’s not interfering with play, what’s he doing on the pitch’. OK if he’s laying injured, maybe, but then players in that position have been known to get up and score.
    By the way, anybody notice how well we started to play the offside trap after Tony Adams joined the coaching staff?

  • tony adams was a really good defender, and coach, and i think it was rug who said if harry were to leave for barcodes, adams would be his man. and yes, players lying injured on the edge of their area, i was the only one in my u16 team who consistently profited from this. other managers got soo *****ed off. which is why it needs to be simplified.

  • The quote you use Tracy well predates Lawrie McScum I think it was Bill Nicholson the old Spurs manager who used it first but ised since by Clough, Shankly and many others. And yes you are spot on that Adams has rubbed off on the back four over offside – pity it did not on Benji and Lua over the years who both appeared to be born offside.

  • ok, seeing as this isnt relevant to pompey fc, i feel no qualms in breaking silence, and explaining and enlitening everyone. i (think) i can safely put my hand up and say that, yes, i fully understand the offside rule, or at least, i understand how i personally adapt the law when refereeing games, however the law is open to the individual opinion of the referr, and his word is final.

  • firstly, you can entirely forget about the term “active”. this annoys me, as it is misleading at best, but probably closer to an entirely made up definition, constructed by commentators hoping to make prove that they are right.

  • and my final apology has to be that i cant ctually remember the examples you gave, so i cant explain them untill i have seen them again, however hopefully my explination below should be enough:

  • the law itself: “a player is in an ofside position if: He is nearer to an oponants goal line than both the ball, and the second last defender. a player is not in an ofside position if: he is in his own half; he is level with the second last defender; he is level with the last 2 defenders” – that covers if you are in an offside position, HOWEVER, simply being in an offside position is not enough!!!

  • “a player is only penalised if, at the moment the ball is played, the player is in an offisde position, and in the opinion of the referee, the player gains an advantage from being in that position: ie. he is interferring with play; interfering with an oponant; or gains another advantage (open to the ideas of the referee) from being in that position.

  • note – it is not an offence to be in an offside position from a goal kick, throw in, or corner kick.

  • also note, that “being closer to the oponants goal line than the second last defender” means the player is offside if ANY part of his body – other than his arms – is nearer the goal line than the second last defender. anyone that mentions “daylight” should be shot! (only joking…)

  • Also also note (;-)) – “interfering with play” means touching the ball that was played, r touched by a member of yur team. “interfering with an oposition” means preventing an oponant from playing the ball, bloking or obstructing the oponant, blocking or obtructing the oponants line of vision, or making a movement or gesture which in anyway could diseave or distract an oponant.

  • also also also note, that it is still a offence if you were in an offside position when the ball was played by a team mate, even if the ball deflects off an oponant, the goalkeeper, the goal post, or the referee.

  • N.B.2 – if a defender attempts to “beat the system” by leaving the field of play, to make a player offside, he should be cautioned for leaving the field of play without permision of the referee (note, he could also be caution for unsporting behaviour AND re-entering the field of play with out the permission of the referee – total 3 cautions, just for leaving the field of play!!!

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