Delaying Flag and Whistle

Delaying the Flag and Whistle on clear attacking situations

Explanation: Following Video Review guidelines from IFAB and the lessons learned from the 2018 FIFA World Cup, PRO officials are delaying the flag and whistle for offside when there is a clear immediate attacking situation.

Delay and Video Review Protocol

MLS Assistant Referees have shown an accuracy rate of 97% when the flag is raised, however delaying the flag and whistle until after the ball has entered the goal opens a window of opportunity for the VAR to check the accuracy of the offside decision.
**Note:  Only the timing of the whistle matters for video review.  The flag is just a signal until the referee blows their whistle.


Examples of Delayed Flags

Delayed Flag

Delayed Flag

Due to the delayed flag and whistle, the VAR was able to check these offside decisions for accuracy.  If they had been clear errors the goals would have been given

IFAB Guidelines  

var handbook cover.jpeg

Guidelines for MLS Assistant Referees

Delay the raising of the flag when tight offside offence is identified and:

  • where there is a very clear attacking situation or

  • a player is about to score or

  • has a clear run into/towards the opponents’ penalty area 

After delaying, the AR will raise the flag if:

  • a goal, penalty, DOGSO results or

  • attacking team is awarded a corner kick, free kick, throw-in or

  • retains possession after the initial attack has ended

The flag will be raised at the end of the initial attack

Location for Delayed Offside Flag/Whistle

A clear run into/towards the opponents’ penalty area implies where the player controls the ball not from where the pass is made.

Near midfield: No delay with flag or whistle

Near midfield: No delay with flag or whistle

Wide areas: No delay with flag or whistle

Wide areas: No delay with flag or whistle

Examples of Midfield Offside Incidents (No delay)

Examples - Wide Areas (No delay)

Examples - Attacking Third but not clear immediate attacking situation

Very Obvious Offside

Offside incidents that are very clear will not have a delay wherever they occur.

Collision - No Delay

When there is a likelihood of a collision for a 50/50 ball between attacker and goalkeeper there will not be a delay due to player safety. 

Examples – Near Penalty Area (Delay wanted)

Offside incidents that create clear attacking situations should have a delay. After the delay the flag will be raised if a goal, penalty, DOGSO results or if attacking team is awarded a corner kick, free kick, throw-in or retains possession after the initial attack has ended.

Examples in Penalty Area (Delay wanted)

Offside incidents in the penalty area that create a clear attacking situation should have a delay.

Summary

•Delay does not mean no offside offence

–It is a delay in showing the decision

•Delay is for clear attacking situations

•Delay is for players near or entering into the penalty area

•The flag will be raised once the initial attack is completed

•Players should always play to the whistle

•Flag and whistle should come as close together as possible

•It is the timing of the whistle the determines if the VAR can review a play

•A goal/penalty/DOGSO can only be reviewed if it occurs before the whistle is blown (not the showing of the flag)

•If in doubt about the offside, the AR will not raise the flag at any point