by Don McMahon
The above expression is a direct translation from a local French expression (I bet Walter knows it and maybe has a similar one in Flemish as well) and it basically means that a double-standard is being applied to some decision or judgement or use of tools that need to be encouraged.
In this my second post about EPL officiating I want to review what amazing things I saw Mr.Friend and his assistant do during this weekend’s game. In particular I want to discuss what offside is and what it isn’t because there seems to be considerable confusion and misunderstanding about this most simple of Laws.
Law 11 states that:
1) Players in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a teammate, may not become actively involved in the play. That is why being in an offside position is NOT punishable but being given offside because the player attempted or succeeded in playing the ball is.
2) A player is in an offside position when he or she is in the opponents’ half of the pitch and closer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last opponent (usually the last defensive player in front of the goalkeeper but any opponent will do).
3) “Offside position” is a matter of fact, whereas ” being given offside ” is purely subjective to the interpretation of the referee. If, in the opinion of the referee a player in an offside position interferes with play (ie: distracts an opponent, especially the keeper) or gains an advantage from being in an offside position (ie: plays or attempts to play the ball or escapes his marker), the referee stops play and awards an indirect free kick to the defending team.
4) This sanction nullifies any result that occurred during the play, including scored goals.
5) The assistant referee communicates when an offside offence has occurred by raising his signal flag in a quick “snapping” motion that can sometimes be heard by the referee, providing a supplement to the visual notification. This is excellent best practice for a good referee and his assistant.
6) There are other factors to be considered such as whether the ball was played by a defender and whether there was a more serious foul committed by either team inside or outside the area before or during the offside incident. As well, players cannot be offside from a throw-in or a corner kick or if they are standing directly on the centre-line.
Based on what I saw with Everton’s second goal scored by Naismith, points 3 and 6 were almost simultaneously infringed by Everton. firstly the referee failed to punish a foul on Mertesacker by Lukaku and the linesman failed in his core duty to signal offside on Naismith.
Had either done their jobs properly, Arsenal would not have been down 2-0 at half-time. Mr.Friend seemed to consider such infringements unimportant in the run of things but would recognize and punish any foul an Arsenal player committed very promptly and authoritatively. This is why there seems to be a double standard in the EPL when it comes to certain teams including Arsenal.
Being in an offside position usually means that the guilty player ‘s upper or lower body, such as head, feet or arms, are closer to the goal-line than his marker. So if a player is leaning forward and the assistant can see him clearly or if he is visible in any way to the assistant rather than being ¨hidden¨ by a marker, then the player is in an offside position. That requires the assistant to run sideways at full speed in almost perfect alignment with the 2nd to last defender and to be aware where the defenders are across the entire width of the defender’s half.
Naismith was ahead of his marker (therefore in an offside position) when the ball was played by Everton but the linesman was behind the Arsenal defensive line by at least 1 yard and couldn’t be certain about Naismith’s position. The referee saw the infringement on Mertesacker but ignored it and the subsequent defensive error by Chambers allowed Lukaku to penetrate the AFC final third and make the offside pass.
This is very poor officiating; making two crucial errors in the same play and having two officials involved. The referee cannot be expected to overrule his assistant, who is supposed to be better placed than him so we cannot fault Mr.Friend for allowing an offside goal. Had we video replays, Mr.Wenger would most assuredly demanded a review and the goal would almost certainly be disallowed.
However the EPL and FIFA apply a double standard with technology, preferring to remain in the dark ages, despite ample evidence from the Dutch FA that has shown how effective a tool this technology can be for officials and crucial decisions.
If UA readers wish to ask for clarification or have comments, please let the debate begin!