Week #19 July 12-14

Collision Course

What to do when an offside positioned attacker and goalkeeper are moving straight towards each other, collision imminent? PRO’s Joe Fletcher gives some sound advice for assistant referees on how to best deal with this difficult situation.
There’s a great highlight of some solid positioning work when offside is not a priority, it is best practice stuff so worth a look.
Three more clips worthy of your look for Call of the Week.

Offside & Possible Goalkeeper Collisions
(non-VAR matches)

When we are making decisions on the field, there should always be a purpose.  As match official, we have to evaluate circumstances and alternatives, then arrive at the best decision for the game.  Our main objective is to maintain match control, while upholding the letter and spirit of the laws of the game. 

  • We have an offside positioned attacker, running clearly towards goal.

  • This offside positioned attacker may not have possession yet, or might have possession but has taken a heavy touch

  • The goalkeeper comes off the goal line to attempt to claim the ball or clear away the danger

  • Either the goalkeeper OR the offside positioned attacker might get to the ball first…this result may or may not be evident.


  • The offside positioned attacker realizes that the ball is too far out of reach and stops running

  • The assistant referee raises the flag and the referee blows the whistle

  • The offside positioned attacker looks over and sees that the assistant referee has raised the flag, and gives up running for the ball, which now goes safely to the goalkeeper


  • The assistant referee doesn’t flag earlier because he doesn’t want to hear from the match assessor that he could have waited another second and avoided being overruled….and as a result:

    • An offside decision that was going to be called ends up not being given


Everyone within the game knows that such a collision can raise the temperature of the game, which now makes match control that much more difficult for the referee team.
So why are we taking this risk?
Let’s look at all the persons/stakeholders involved:

  1. Is the defending team (especially the goalkeeper) bothered by the flag?

  2. Is the attacking team going to care about an early flag and it getting waved down/play on

  3. Will the spectators make a big deal of the AR being waved down with the GK in clear possession.
    Not even sure they will notice

  4. Will the media say anything which erodes referee credibility?
    Not at all, they'll just say "he was offside regardless" and go into their next segment

  5. Does the league office or ownership group care if the AR gets waved down.
    Absolutely not.

  6. Has the referee team lost any real credibility in this situation?

  7. It would appear that the only person that takes any sort of issue with this early flag when the ball ends up with the goalkeeper is the match assessor.

ADVICE: So the instruction for all Non-VAR matches is this:
If you have an offside positioned attacker running with no other onside teammate involved, and there is even a REMOTE possibility of a collision with the goalkeeper, the assistant referee will flag earlier, and the match assessor will not mention or penalize that assistant referee if the attacker stops running or if the goalkeeper safely gets the ball. The referee will give the kind overruling wave, the ball will remain in play, and life will move on.

Offside & Possible Goalkeeper Collisions
VAR matches

When you have to VAR delay the flag, you have to VAR delay the flag regardless of the potential for a collision. The collision is not on the assistant referee but on the players who must always control their actions. Although we want to avoid any unnecessary contact whenever possible, when you add VAR delay that cannot always be the case.
However you should consider that a long ball played high into the area with an attacker in a clear offside position and the goalkeeper coming out to gather it at the same time, to be a less likely scenario to keep the flag down as the imminent goal scoring opportunity would not be that evident.

Assistant Referee Positioning and Movement

Just last week we discussed having a high work rate.  This is especially true within the penalty area.  It is thus rather pleasing to see the PRO assistant referees take that reminder and put it into immediate effect. 

In this clip we see the assistant referee smartly reposition himself to get an angle of view on the foul that ends up happening.
In moment, offside is no longer a priority. The goal line and a potential foul are the priorities. That one step just beyond the flag gives the AR the best chance to see both possibilities.
Quick readjustments, especially within the penalty area, are an important feature of the elite assistant referee. They often make the difference between seeing and not seeing, or correct and incorrect decisions.

Winner - MLS Call of the Week #18 - Adam Garner

There was a late surge in voting for Ben, but Adam held him off.

There was a late surge in voting for Ben, but Adam held him off.

MLS Call of the Week #19

Three good ones this week.
Brian Poeschel has been here before, good concentration to not get distracted by the offside attacker who does not interfere with any opponents.
Gjovalin Bori has an offside position attacker, but wait, that looks like a deliberate play before he receives the ball.
Andrew Bigelow is in good position to see that this pass and run were perfectly timed.

Brain Poeschel

Gjovalin Bori

Andrew Bigelow

Who had Call of the Week #19?
Brian Poeschel - DC United v New England
Gjovalin Bori - Minnesota v FC Dallas
Andrew Bigelow - Vancouver v Sporting KC