FIFA has requested that the International Football Association Board (IFAB) clarify the wording on the offside rule to eliminate referee interpretation of when a player is deemed to be interfering with play. My first reaction to this is why on earth do FIFA, the games governing body, not have the ability to clarify the rules themselves? I assume the answer is to avoid one body having absolute power over the running of the game to avoid corruption and favoritism, which is working well.
The current wording of the offside rule, Law 11 states: a player is interfering by clearly obstructing an opponent’s vision or movements, or making a gesture or movement which in the opinion of the referee deceives or distracts an opponent. It is my interpretation that the rule’s intention initially was intended so that players coming back from an offside position and not attempting to get involved in the play would not be given as offside (hence the not interfering with play wording or a few years back). Managers, referees and pundits seem to have taken that rule and looked for clarification on what was or wasn’t interfering with play which got a lot of publicity forcing a clarification of the rule. Rather than simplifying the rule, the wording was changed into what we have now which is so ridiculous in its detail it is almost laughable.
I would suggest that instead of trying to define what is interfering with play; write the rule defining what is not interfering with play and everything else is considered to be offside. For example, a player will be deemed not to be interfering with play if retreating from an offside position or play is moving away from their position and no attempt is made to get involved. If one of these to circumstances does not apply then the player is interfering and offside. If there is any doubt over whether the player was interfering with play, then he was interfering. If the rule is kept simple and common sense is applied then the offside rule should not have any interpretation outside of the assistant’s judgement of whether the player offside or not.
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