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.
As you can expect, these changes ended up causing more confusion instead of clarifying things.
The new clarifications upset many managers:
Motherwell manager Terry Butcher echoed Redknapp’s sentiments and believes the regulation is a major cause for concern.
"We will need to get some clarification on it because it makes the linesmen look like idiots because of these very late flags. It is a case that the player is not offside until he touches the ball and it is one of the most bizarre rules ever to come into play. It needs clarification because there is going to be major controversy during the season with it. I don’t think it will improve any game. It will cause problems and concern among a lot of people because of their interpretation of it. It is not one of the better rules I have seen that have come in to football."
The BBC published a primer on the implications of the clarifications as well. FIFA also went into some detail about the changes when they were announced for the 2005 World Youth Championship.
This leads into our Question of the Week. Are you seeing the ‘new’ offside rule called for youth matches? In most matches I’ve seen in the past year, offside is called at the time of the pass. Player A is offside, player B leads a pass in front of them or kicks it towards them and the whistle blows often before the ball reaches the offside player. Now passes in youth leagues aren’t always the most accurate so that pass may be yards away from the offside player, but the whistle blows fairly quick.
Based on the clarifications outlined above, the whistle shouldn’t be blown until the offside player actually touches the ball. Are you seeing that in your leagues? A common complaint is offside stops play too much in youth leagues (something I don’t necessarily agree with, but only based on my limited experience). If you didn’t blow play dead until the offending player touched the ball, it would give offside players a chance to realize "I can’t touch that pass" and the defense would scoop up the ball as play continued. I think that would be a good thing.
So are you seeing this ‘new style’ enforced where play is only blown dead when the ball is touched? (or the other two cases – advantage and opponent interference) If so, how is it working out? If not – do you think it should be?