In last week’s Play of the Week we discussed “Offside Position” where there was an offence. This week we are focusing on “Offside Position” where there is no offence”.

The opening sentence in Law 11 – Offside, says :

It is not an offence to be in an offside position.

This fact is highlighted perfectly in this play from the game between Minnesota United v Chicago Fire. As Fire are launching an attack, the ball is passed to Elliot Collier who has a brief touch on the ball but is dispossessed by United’s Rasmus Schuller. At that moment Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic runs forward into an offside position. Schuller then plays the ball against his team mate, Ibson Barreto da Silva, who pursues the ball only to play it against team mate, Michael Boxall. The ball then goes to Nikolic who takes a shot on goal. His shot is parried by opposing keeper Matt Lampson into the path of Collier who slots the ball home to score.

The very fact that the ball has been deliberately played firstly by Schuller then by da Silva ensures that Nikolic is in an offside position but has not committed an offence by gaining an advantage. The law states:

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.

A decision like this takes a lot of concentration by the AR who has to focus on the second last defender, the player in an offside position and the actions of the defenders playing the ball. It also helped that the referee, Alex Chilowitz, assisted by calling “Defender, Defender, Defender” over the communication system, which is good teamwork and prescribed practice. Referees should always be focused on offside scenarios and communicate effectively and concisely with the AR.  If you look at the movements of the AR, they are fluid, quick and she has the continued concentration that we discussed last week. It is indeed a great example of Assistant Refereeing at the highest level.

Who is this assistant referee you may ask? It is none other than Felicia Mariscal, sister of Apolinar, whom we featured in last week’s Play of the Week. Coincidence? I doubt it, knowing their family, and how professional they are in their preparation, they would have discussed and analyzed Apolinar’s experience from last week and learned from it.

This is what makes the top officials as good as they are: by continual self-analysis and assessment, listening and always learning, now matter how experienced they are!

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