FROM THE MIDDLE: Offside without playing the ball

Assistant referee or Lineman of football or soccer holding flag

Norwich City is one of football’s yo-yo teams, their membership of the Premier League seemingly going up or down every season.

It is obvious therefore that they need every point, and their manager, Daniel Farke was annoyed when they had a goal disallowed, which would have seen them gain a point against Leicester City.

He says it was a blunder by VAR. Norwich’s Kenny McLean had headed the ball past Leicester’s goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel.

However, the goal was ruled offside as Norwich’s Todd Cantwell was standing in front of the goalkeeper.

Farke claimed that although Cantwell was in an offside position, he couldn’t be given offside as he didn’t take any part in the goal.

The offside law is however, very explicit.

It does say it is not an offence to be in an offside position.

It goes on to say, it becomes an offence if the player prevents an opponent from playing the ball or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponents line of vision.

It seemed quite clear that Cantwell, standing about a yard in front of Schmeichel, was obstructing his line of vision.

This particular offside decision is often the most difficult for the assistant referee and the referee.

The assistant referee should be able to see quite clearly whether or not the attacking player is in an offside position but looking from the side of the pitch, is not able to see if the player is blocking the goalkeepers view.

The referee, while not being able to judge offside, is more likely to see if the goalkeeper’s view is blocked.

In the higher regions of the game, referee and assistants will likely be wired-up, so can talk to one another and check the situation from each other’s perspective, but it seemed that the referee wanted to make sure by checking with the VAR.

I was surprised that Daniel Farke complained.

This part of the Law was introduced in 2016, along with other changes to offside, surely long enough for club managers to have caught up.

He was the one who blundered.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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