I am sitting in Toronto Airport waiting for a flight to Halifax. I will be down in the heart of Atlantic Canada for a few days at the Canada Winter Games. But I did manage to watch a few games before hopping a flight in late afternoon.
And with an hour on my hands why not bang out an article.
We got treated in back to back games on Saturday to complaints from the commentating crews about the offside rule. The first instance was in the sequence leading up to Robin Van Persie’s second goal for Arsenal against Wolves.
We have seen Van Persie’s action many times over the years – 1994 Netherlands vs Brail anyone?. He was coming back from an offside position and would have been flagged if the pass from Cesc Fabregas had gone to him. But it did not and instead it led Theo Walcott through the Wolves defence and he was clearly onside.
Van Persie turned and gave chase and when Walcott’s pass came in he was on side and scored. We were then told by the commentator that someone on the International Board had to do something because the present law was confusing and defenders did not know what to do.
The capper to his point was that “players and managers” do not even know the offside law so there must be something wrong with it.
Any fan, who watches games, listens to interviews and reads newspapers and surfs the internet can tell you that there are a lot more laws that players, managers (and commentators) don’t know than just offside.
If that is a legitimate criterion for amending the laws of the game then we will be in for a major overhaul from top to bottom. Perhaps another option might to make players and manages who draw healthy salaries pass a “Laws of the Game” test each couple of seasons.
As for the commentator who was in the dark on this one a quick look at the FIFA Laws of the Game site would enlighten him – and players and managers – there are some nice drawings as well.
The next game brought a stern statement from the colour commentator that he did not understand the need for the present interpretation of the offside law – what was wrong with the old way? As far as he was concerned a player in an offside position was just that, end of story.
It was the kind of simplistic notion we have heard many times. You get the feeling if you started providing specific examples of such a strict interpretation you would start have exceptions thrown back at you very quickly.
However, that was not the bit that got my back up. His partner picked up on comments and used the Everton goal against Arsenal as an example of how bad the new offside rule is.
Allowing the Everton goal had nothing to do with the application of the “new” offside rule but was based on whether the Arsenal player had control of the ball or not when it was knocked to Saha. The issue of control, pass-back or deflection is clearly a separate issue in respect to an offside call or not.
If the commentator went along with his friend in the booth then surely an intentional pass-back would not play a forward onside.
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