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FIFA to discuss major change to offside law

By Mike Collett

LONDON, Jan 7 (Reuters) - A major change to football's offside law is on the agenda when FIFA's law-makers meet in Cardiff next month.

The proposal, from the Football Association of Wales, is that a player can only be offside if they are in the opponent's penalty area.

If accepted by the game's global governing body, the change would have an even bigger impact on the sport than the last major alteration to the offside law in 1925.

That change reduced from three to two the number of players from the defending team needed to be between the attacker with the ball and the goalline in the opponent's half.

It was introduced to end a lack of goals being scored in the game and had a huge impact with far more goals being scored before teams adapted their tactics to deal with it.

The law-making International Board, established in 1886, comprises eight seats; the four British associations and an equal number from FIFA. Any proposal needs at least six votes to become law.

The British have such a large representation in recognition of their role in originally codifying the laws of the game.


The busy agenda for the meeting in Cardiff on February 26 also includes a proposal to change the punishment for a "professional foul".

The Welsh are proposing that players be booked rather than sent off for denying an opponent an obvious scoring opportunity but that the attacking team be awarded a penalty, so having the scoring opportunity "returned" to them.

It would also stop matches being spoilt by having so many goalkeepers sent off for these type of offences.

FIFA also want to stop time-wasting and the meeting will discuss yellow cards for attacking players who pick the ball out of the net after a goal is scored and for any player who "deliberately touches" the ball after a free-kick, corner or throw-in is awarded against his side.

The Board is also expected to look at technological equipment, designed to rule whether the ball has crossed the line for a goal, during their stay in Cardiff.

The trial will be shown to members at the Millennium Stadium where the English League Cup final is being played on February 27 but the technology will not be used in the match.

Any decisions taken by the Board become law the following July 1 but major changes are usually tested in junior and youth level matches for two or three seasons before being integrated into the game at senior or professional level.

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That is possibly the worst suggestion I have ever heard (the penalty-area only offside rule). It would lead to cherry-picking specialists spending the entire game around the opponents 18-yard box, while the rest of the team defends, hoofs and hopes.

The offside rule needs no alteration, IMO.

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The offside needs to get rid of the "passive" element which is cause for way too much confusion. Just look at RVN's goal against the Czechs at Euro or Stern John's a few years ago at the GC to see that it causes bad goals (players were offside on a shot and scored off the rebound with the gained advantage).

The card system is ok in my opinion although I agree there should be more for time-wasting and for the ridiculous "let me lob the ball up towards you for your throw-in" things. Punishing an attacker for retrieving a ball from the net is ludicrous, especially in losing or tied condiitons.

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quote:Originally posted by jonovision

That is possibly the worst suggestion I have ever heard (the penalty-area only offside rule). It would lead to cherry-picking specialists spending the entire game around the opponents 18-yard box, while the rest of the team defends, hoofs and hopes.

The offside rule needs no alteration, IMO.

Something has to be done IMHO. The offside rule in soccer is ( in many cases) impossible to call with precison. How is it physicaly possible to see ( at the EXACT same time) that the attaching player receiving the pass was level with the last defender at the same time the ball was released. Its not physiologically possible since your eyes can only look in one direction. And then there is "Passive offside" condition. That is about as clear to me as the Fifa rules for "cap tying" players.

Maybe technology is needed. but currect situaltion is not acceptable. It can lead to corruption

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But, the problems in the game today has so little to do with the enforcement of the traditional off-side rule. The few problems witht he off-side rule has to do with the ridiculous distinction between passive or not passive (in my opinion, there is no basis for saying any player on the field is passive, they all have a bearing on attacking and defending formation..as Bill Shankly always used to say, 'If he's not active, what's he doing on the field?' ). Get rid of the passive rule, and get back to the traditional off-side. I know there are difficulties with the linesman being physiologically able to determine if someone is actually off-side, but is it a major problem? No.

Without a more traditional offside rule, the matches will degenerate, IMHO, into a series of kicking long balls from one end to the other in an effort to catch the defence out of position. it would just turn into a big lobfest. There will be less build-up and short-passing that makes the game more exciting. It will not be soccer as we know it.

Technology can help with the other problems, as long as it is introduced in a way that will not stop the flow of the game. If you want to increase scoring, look at some other revoloutionary concepts, such as moving the wall back further or increasing the size of the goal-mouth. But let's move back to and maintain the traditional off-side rule, or the movement of the beautiful game will disappear.

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I was forgetting about the passive offside angle. Perhaps, as Cheeta said in another thread on this board the other day, any player in an offside position when the ball is played means the play should be blown offside. I don't think that is so hard to call, especially when you have linesmen who basically only have 1 job, which is to watch for offside violations.

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I read earlier today someone proposing a 35-yard offside line instead. I like it because it would reward quick attacking players and would force teams to play quicker, more athletic defenders instead of the big, slow defenders who's only job seems to be winning headers on defensive set pieces.

As for using instant replays on goals. One suggestion I rather liked was that there would be a television official (in addition to the current 4 in a game) who's only job would be to watch for balls crossing the goal line and hand balls in the penalty area. If not called properly by the referee or his assistants play would go on normally until the TV official notified the 4th official who in turn notifies the ref. The person who proposed it also suggests that the TV official be able to hand out yellow or red cards for simulation and be able to overturn the ref awarding penalty kicks when a player is judged to have cleary gone to the ground to easily (or as Pierre McGuire would say 'Going down faster than free beer at a frat party') . Although I admit such a system could be disruptive to the flow of a game.

I too agree that punishing an attacking player for getting the ball out of the net is absurd. They are actually trying to speed the game up. They shouldn't be punished for that.

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quote:Originally posted by devioustrevor

I read earlier today someone proposing a 35-yard offside line instead. I like it because it would reward quick attacking players and would force teams to play quicker, more athletic defenders instead of the big, slow defenders who's only job seems to be winning headers on defensive set pieces.

That was apparently tried in the NASL ( I am ashamed to say I never went to a NASL match , and it was barely on TV I was able to get ). Views were mixed on the verdict. Like the designated hitter rule in baseball, it extended the life of some slower older players, especially those from Europe that camme over, but it also apparently resulted in defenders hanging back.

Any comments from those that recall how that experiment went?

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Not the Welsh proposals for the "penalty box" offside (in fact, I would guarantee it ends up in the bin).

There are some Fifa proposals trying to clarify and strengthen the "passive" exception, and the FIFA proposals often pass even if the majority of the ones from the associations don't (the Scottish one to change the throw-in rule (clarify what is allowable and allow a 2 m clear zone) probaly will.


"6. Law 11 – Offside (Submitted by the FIFA)

a) New International FA Board Decision 1 In the definition of offside position, “nearer to his opponents’ goal line” means that any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. The arms are not included in this definition.

Reason: Football is played with the head, body and feet. If these are nearer the opponents’ goal line, there is a potential advantage. There is no advantage to be gained if only the arms are in advance of the opponent.

B) New International FA Board Decision 2 The definitions of elements of involvement in active play are as follows:-

• Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team mate.

• Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.

• Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.

Reason These definitions have been tried out over two seasons and modified following the approval of the original interpretation by the IFAB Business meeting in September. This IFAB decision gives the appropriate recognition to the Laws of the Game booklet."

One possible problem is that the IFB sometimes takes the proposals and comes up with there own wiothout public discussion. We should be thankful though that they are pretty conservative in their deliberations.

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Re beaches: NASL 35 yd offside rule

Yes absolutely it was a good idea and I can attest to it because

I attended many games in which one could see how it opened up the


Of course, FIFA was never going to allow it to continue because it

was an american idea.

BTW, the idea of the offside being called only inside the penalty

area was considered by the NASL before adopting the 35 yd offside


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  • 2 weeks later...

Managers campaign for offside overhaul

Alan Biggs

Wednesday January 19, 2005

The Guardian

England's managers are campaigning to force Fifa into changing rules they perceive to be "stupid" in one instance and "a joke" in another.

The League Managers' Association wants an end to the scenario that requires injured players to leave the field after treatment and a revision of the much-manipulated offside law.

The association's chief executive John Barnwell expects both regulations to be discussed at next month's meeting in Cardiff of the International Football Association Board, the annual forum for law amendments.

Support is being canvassed from the home associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who each have one vote each as opposed to Fifa's four.

The FA will consider the LMA's proposals, which start with allowing a treated player to stay on the field if he has been injured by foul play.

"The rule is stupid," said Barnwell. "If a player has been injured by a foul it can't be right for the opposition to gain an advantage. Players shouldn't have to leave the pitch in such circumstances."

The LMA suggests that players should only go off when they have been injured accidentally or in the act of committing a foul.

The offside issue is even more complex following the recent change that regards players as "inactive" unless they are in direct receipt of the ball or in close proximity to a scoring attempt.

"The law is a joke at the moment," said Barnwell. He believes the trend for players' to linger in an offside position before jogging back to break away from the last defender is an abuse of the new interpretation.

The LMA is also seeking an explanation of what constitutes an obvious goal-scoring opportunity following inconsistencies in the use of red cards for professional fouls and they are advocating a total ban on shirt removal. This would include a player lifting his shirt over his head as in the case of Everton's Tim Cahill, whose dismissal for a second caution exposed the ambiguity of the rule.

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I agree with the leaving-the-pitch change (it seems so logical; just get up and play), agree with the offside revision that would have ALL players potentially offside (see RVN's goal against the Czechs in the first round at Euro 2004 for the unfair advantage). However, I don't get why everyone's going crazy with the shirt rule. I would rather it NOT be a booking if a player takes his shirt off to celebrate, but I can understand it. Just pulling it over your head? What's the harm in that? No time wasting and doesn't hurt anyone (unless the shirt sponsors are lobbying?).

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