Portsmouth - The 'Offside Rule'
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The 'Offside Rule'

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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The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday February 8 2008

Time: 12:57PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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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.
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08/02/2008 12:59:00

Quite happy to do that. Don't forget your Toast on Sundays though folks - I am away so say whet you like!!
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08/02/2008 13:31:00

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?
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08/02/2008 13:42:00

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...
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08/02/2008 13:47:00

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.
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08/02/2008 14:08:00

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.
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08/02/2008 14:21:00

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?
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08/02/2008 14:23:00

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.
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08/02/2008 14:57:00

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.
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08/02/2008 16:15:00

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.
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08/02/2008 17:42:00

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.
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08/02/2008 17:43:00

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:
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08/02/2008 17:45:00

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!!!
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08/02/2008 17:49:00

"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.
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08/02/2008 17:53:00

note - it is not an offence to be in an offside position from a goal kick, throw in, or corner kick.
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08/02/2008 17:53:00

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...)
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08/02/2008 17:55:00

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.
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08/02/2008 17:59:00

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.
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08/02/2008 18:01:00

N.B. an indirect freekick is awarded to the defending side, at the location of the offence.
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08/02/2008 18:02:00

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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08/02/2008 18:05:00

also, an attacker CAN be penalised for offside if he is inside an oponants goal as the ball enters the goal, if he distracts the goalkeeper, although if he stands still, he should not be penalised.
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08/02/2008 18:07:00

right, i have tried to keep it brief...not sure if that worked particually well...maybe i should write an article in response to yours...might be a little clearer... but either way, i will try to take a look at the examples you have highlighted, and explain them. Either way, remember that the asistant referees are trying to judge if a part of a player is beond a part of another player - which is in itself very dificult, even on slow motian/freezefram replays - live, so human error can be taken into account - and also, referees only ever try to do the right thing, and premiership referees are where they are because they are the best in the buisness, and will only make 1 or 2 mistakes in a game. dont get on there back!!!
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08/02/2008 18:11:00

Carpet thanks for breaking your silence and giving us that brief outline of the offside law. Now would you like give that address to the referees, assistants and managers so that they can get the idea too. I still think Anelka was offside though.
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08/02/2008 19:44:00

Some good points Carp .. I used to live next door to a bloke called Bernie Weeks who was a referee assessor for the South West and obviously we would aften chew the fat over various rules within the game... When Van Nistleroy scored the now famous 'active' goal Bernie told me that he played the real time footage at a seminar and sked the audiance (about 30 refes) to say wheter or not the goal should have stood... Even though they knew the goal had been given in 'real life' about 50% said it shouldn't have been ... Bearnie's seminar was entitled..... 'How to acheive consistency within the refereing community' ..... I think he is still workng on the project to this day..!
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08/02/2008 20:17:00

Rule, there is a rule. I thought you adjusted your interpretation as it suits the decision made. Some think this, some think that, but the actual decision maker says something else. And by then it doesn't matter what you or I think. That is the offside rule.
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08/02/2008 20:46:00

"brief outline"...lol. BUT, in all seriousness, if you ask just about any referee, they will tell you practicly the same thing. its just that each game comes down to the individual referees interpretation, and for every case, the referee has to make a split second decision as to whether or not he should blow the whistle or not. dont forget, whilst the assistent referee has a pretty good view (not perfect though) the referee has a pretty bad view on who is on/off side, so it is a marvel that so few "incorrect" (although if the referee says it, it is imediatly "correct" ;-)...) decisions are made. Bringing consistency to refereeing is pretty near impossible, as every referee will have a diferent take on the law, and adapt it to different situations. we can come close - and i think we are - but perfection is an althogether different proposition.
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08/02/2008 20:47:00

carpet can you just break your 'silence' now - i appreciate that you are upset about benji, and do respect what you are doing but in many ways you are only hurting yourself arent you are you are not talking about sujbects that i know you would want to tbh...
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09/02/2008 00:41:00

The offside rule has always been a cause of arguement. My view is give all the refs a break. It is very difficult to be 100% sure in a lot of cases and when replays and the magic line across the pitch is used, the ref is right the majority of the times. Both the goals in the Chelsea match have come under scrutiny. I have watched the replay time and time again with and without the magic line. My opinion is that neither were offside. There will be others who will argue that one or both were offside. If we can't agree with the benefit of technology after the match, how do you expect the refs , who have a fraction of a second to decide, to always be right. In this particular match there were other aspects of the main refs game that need addressing far more than the offside arguement.
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09/02/2008 04:58:00

carpets only gonna keep it all locked up inside until he has a massive explosion of posts. pretty much like what he did in here. but now i feel like i understand the offside rule more so thanks.
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09/02/2008 13:27:00

It still comes down to the way the ref applies the rules and what he sees. This weekends game against Bolton was a great example. Diarra was offside by more than a yard. No arguement there. But the 2nd ref was blindsided and couldn't see who was the player who pushed the ball onto Diarra. From his position it could have been Kanu or the Bolton player. The main ref was too far back to be able to see. The accepted rule is that when in doubt the attacking side gets the benefit of the doubt. Using that as the guide the ref was right to allow the goal even though it was clearly offside and, on the replay, Kanu was the player who pushed the ball to Diarra. The refs decision is final and it was unlucky for Bolton but more often the ref is right. The offside rule is used as a game tactic and as such mistakes will occur. No different to any other rule or type of tackle.
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10/02/2008 07:32:00


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