Interfering with an Opponent is the hot topic this week. Impact, obvious action, ability to play, yada, yada, yada. What do they all mean in the context of an offside decision in live play? We have two clips to analyze and give advice on. Whether you are on the line or in the VOR it is important that you fully understand this concept. If you have questions you can use the Comment section at the bottom of the page.
Interfering with an Opponent
We are looking at a situation involving Offside – Interfering with an Opponent.
While there are four bullet points under this section of Law 11, the 4th bullet is the one which most often applies. It reads “making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of the opponent to play the ball”. To help with the understanding of this phrase, we offer up a few teaching points, but remind everyone to look at the collective, rather than a single principle or concept.
Proximity alone is not enough (excluding line of vision situations)
Contains a movement which is noticeable
Shows a desire to be involved with active play
How much action is enough?
To answer the above, we say in principle, if the offside positioned attacker makes physical contact, we have a clear impact
Without contact, was the action enough that it stopped or altered the desired course of action of the defender
The ability of the opponent to play the ball
Given the direction the defender chooses to go
Given the distance away from active play
Given the speed, direction and location of the ball
If you listen to the VAR and AVAR, the reason that they recommend an on-field review is that they applied the concept that “contact must mean he interfered with the opponent and therefore is offside”.
As stated above, physical contact is enough to say clear impact, so they were not that far off base. In many situations, the attacker instigates the contact, the contact was mutual, or the attacker set a pick with minimal movement.
In this clip, the attacker does nothing in terms of involvement. When you look from the kickpoint onward, the only form of contact is the defender holding the offside positioned attacker. Pretty hard to blame the attacker for impacting the defender, when the defender made the choice to play in this fashion while the attacker did not get involved.
This clip acts as a great reminder to look at the collection of considerations when making a decision.
Interfering with an Opponent - #2
What happens when we try to apply the criteria above to this clip?
For argument’s sake, let’s avoid the obvious reply about obstructing the opponents line of vision (first of the 4 bullet points in the Offside - Interfering with an Opponent section)
#77 does not make any large movements and does not attempt to play the ball.
The attacker walks upon realizing he is likely in an offside position
The issue is the proximity of the attacker to the goalkeeper, which is VERY close.
#77 is so close to the goalkeeper, that it becomes more difficult for the goalkeeper to set his position
At a point in time during the shot, the ball disappears from the sight-line of the goalkeeper
#77 is also central vs being way off to one side of the goalkeeper
The ability of the opponent to play the ball
The shot is not hit with an extreme amount of pace 5 yards away where the goalkeeper could never touch it
The goalkeeper had every chance to make this save, and even gets a touch to it
It is reasonable to believe that the goalkeeper was put at an unfair disadvantage due to the offside positioned attacker
The result of this clip is an offside offence, for interfering with an opponent.
Advice: The Assistant Referee is not in view in this clip, but as a refresher, here are the expectations for decisions similar to this involving Offside – Interfering with an Opponent:
If the decision is a straightforward, clear and indisputable offense:
raise the flag immediately
If the decision is less than “clear & obvious”:
Allow the play to finish. Typically, the ball will cross the goal line
Have an opinion as to whether an offense has occurred or not
Do not flag, but also do not run up the line if a goal was scored
Communicate with the Referee as to your opinion on the incident. Since the ball is out of play, you have TIME.
Use actual sentences because we are not in a hurry
Be sure that the Referee understands your opinion.
The Referee might not agree in the end, but a misunderstanding cannot be the reason for an ill-advised decision.
Winner - MLS Call of the Week #24 - Corey Parker
MLS Call of the Week #25
Two offside decisions, one given and one not given. Which do you think was better? Jose Da Silva in Portland v Seattle or Nick Uranga in NY Football Club v Columbus?