Offside law updated following controversial goals

The IFAB has updated its offside guidelines after a number of controversial goals and incidents in recent seasons where a striker benefitted from being in an offside position.

The most high profile incident came last October, with Kylian Mbappe‘s winning goal for France against Spain in the final of the UEFA Nations League.

Mbappe was clearly in an offside position when Theo Hernandez tried a through-ball, but Spain defender Eric Garcia played the Paris Saint-Germain striker onside by touching the ball when attempting to intercept the pass.

Why Mbappe’s “offside” goal was allowed to stand

Referee Anthony Taylor allowed the goal because Garcia had made a deliberate attempt to play the ball, a decision backed up by the VAR. And UEFA’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti, who is on the board of The IFAB, called for the law to be updated as it was not in the spirit of the game to allow an attacking player to profit from being in an offside position.

Although the IFAB has insisted the law itself has not been changed, a new list of guidelines for a “deliberate play” has been issued. It means that a only a controlled play of the ball, such as a misplaced pass, will now reset the offside phase.

The guidelines for a “deliberate play” are now defined as:
– The ball travelled from distance and the player had a clear view of it
– The ball was not moving quickly
– The direction of the ball was not unexpected
– The player had time to coordinate their body movement, i.e. it was not a case of instinctive stretching or jumping, or a movement that achieved limited contact/control
– A ball moving on the ground is easier to play than a ball in the air

As Garcia’s attempt to stop Hernandez’s pass was instinctive stretching, Mbappe’s goal would now be ruled offside.

Video examples provided by The IFAB of situations which would now be offside include:
Harry Kane from Lukas Klostermann‘s play of the ball for England‘s late penalty vs. Germany in the UEFA Nations League in June
Romelu Lukaku for his goal for Belgium vs. Russia at Euro 2020, when the ball came off Andrei Semenov and ran to the striker to score

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