The offside rule is something that most people – including referees and linesmen – find confusing, so it’s not really a shock that the FA have decided to make some changes – but the FA being the FA have made it slightly different, yet still open to a huge amount of interpretation and confusion.
The new Premier League rule states “A player in an offside position shall be penalised if he 1. Clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or 2. Makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.”
So what does it actually mean?
Basically, the people behind the FA have decided it’s time yet again to make another pointless rule change. Essentially, the difference to the new rule means that it is no longer at the referee’s discretion whether a player is deemed to be affecting play when in an offside position, despite not actually touching the ball.
Instead, any player in an offside position who makes an obvious movement towards the ball or in an attempt to affect play, will be deemed offside.
For example, if an attacker attempts to head a ball in from an OFFSIDE position during a set-piece but doesn’t actually make contact with the ball before a team-mate in an ONSIDE position converts it, the goal will still be disallowed. This is because there was an obvious attempt to play the ball from the player in the offside position.
Scottish referee Steven McLean claimed:
It’s a simple change really to interfering with an opponent. When a player makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on his opponent’s ability to play the ball, then he will be penalised as offside.
All-in-all, the rule isn’t much different, except the fact that Premier League teams now have a more refined knowledge of where an offside player becomes active in the rule. Whilst this is a good thing, it will do nothing to change the game, except perhaps disallow more goals than necessary.
Although if you’re a Preston fan, you might’ve wanted this rule to have come in a season earlier…
When Ander Herrara hit a scruffy shot towards the goal of Preston keeper, Thorsten Stuckmann, in their FA Cup clash, it never looked like going in, but that’s exactly why, when Wayne Rooney stood in the eyeline of the League One keeper, the ball went in the back of the net – because Stuckmann couldn’t see it going in. Whilst Rooney didn’t make an obvious attempt to play the ball, he did move in the direction of it and in the new rule, that’s deemed an offence.
Tough luck Preston fans.