A theme at many training and development seminars has been ‘what does the game expect?’. Empathy with the games stakeholders will help officials deliver football matches within the framework of the Law, always mindful of what is a sensible footballing outcome. An outcome that people can understand and accept.
In the Liverpool v Tottenham match we saw what happens when the Laws of the Game do not align to what the game expects. Indeed, the outcome of that decision caused differences of opinion amongst the referee community. When this happens it is vital to ask why?
In recent weeks we have seen two almost identical situations with opposite outcomes.
Liverpool v Tottenham – considerations.
- The deliberate playing action of the Liverpool defender Lovren was the reason given that the Tottenham attacker Kane was onside.
- Did the location of Kane, impact upon Lovren.
- There was also some discussion about what we mean by deliberate playing the ball.
- The conclusion was that in Law, Kane is onside, and play could continue.
If Kane isn’t their (offside) Lovren doesn’t attempt to do that, he influences Lovren therefore influences play, he also goes on to dive which no one seems to be talking about pic.twitter.com/Trn5necPrn
— Liam Carter (@liamcarter67) February 5, 2018
RB Leipzig v Napoli – considerations.
Last Thursday during a Europa League last 32 match between RB Leipzig and Napoli with the score delicately poised an almost identical situation occurred.
- In this situation the attacker is further from the defender and there is a clear playing action. Almost identical to the Lovren and Kane situation.
- The English officials on the night penalised the attacking team for an offside offence.
- The Napoli attacker accepted the offside decision (stakeholder)
So if Harry Kane was on-side because Lovren’s attemoted clearance played him on – which is nonsense anyway – why wasn’t this allowed to go? Antony Taylor and Brit officials on duty https://t.co/tY8jq0QiED
— Richard Keys (@richardajkeys) February 24, 2018
The Liverpool v Tottenham situation will have been discussed by the stakeholders in the English game. The footage will have been analysed by the officials at the fortnightly referee training camp. It is also highly likely that both FIFA and UEFA will have considered the reaction to the decision. There may even have been a directive at the recent UEFA camp in Malta to flag offside in this type of situation. UEFA like to keep things simple.
If there has been a shift to giving this type of scenario as offside, then perhaps game empathy has been applied. For two highly experienced refereeing teams from the same Country to come to different outcomes on an identical situation suggests that either game empathy has been applied or one of the decisions is simply incorrect. You are the Ref believes it is the former and continue to stand by our decision that both are offside offences.
Who knows we may even see a tweak to Law 11….