One weight, two measures: double standards on the field.

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!

The books
The complete Arsenal Anniversary series is to be found on the Arsenal History Society site.


52 Replies to “One weight, two measures: double standards on the field.”

  1. This was very interesting for me. I had done my review of this match and just was adding the numbers when Don send in his article. And we got to the same final conclusion that the ref was using double standards.
    Don based on his vast and long experience as a top ref and assessor and me based on my numbers mostly (and some experience).

    I wonder what the conclusion of Howard Webb has been on this one? Hallo Howard, how is the new job going?

    I bet Mike Riley will have come to this conclusion: Just as in match 50 the ref got 95 % of his decisions correct and 99% of the offside decisions were correct. 🙂 🙂 LOL

    Come to think of it… it isn’t that funny as we lost 2 points because of the PGMO shit.

  2. There were several weird decisions like where Sanchez was pushed off the pitch – play on, their player runs into ours, free kick for Everton.

    I am trying to be a sensible man and say there is no conspiracy against The Arsenal but it is becoming harder and harder to deny.

  3. Two games in and two points stolen already. Then when we fall short by about 4-7 points at the end of the season shouldn’t we say refs cost us the league? Same thing happened last season.

  4. After almost 40 years watching the game. Being raised by a man who played high level semi-pro and with two bothers who signed pro, I am starting to lose understanding as to what is a foul and what isn’t.

    Not just talking Arsenal here (although we do seem to be on the wrong end of a lot of bad decisions) but year on year, ref’s are getting worse. I just watch the game now not understanding what is going on.

  5. Cheers Don for the taking the time to write this up and putting things in order.
    COYG! Aha and Amen!

  6. Will,
    the game has changed so much and the speed has gone up amazingly compared to just 30 years ago that it is almost impossible for a referee to keep up with the game these days.
    They need assistance or else they will keep on making too many mistakes.

  7. Don
    Running sideways at full speed isn’t so easy is it? Some of those officials can run backwards/sideways quicker than many of us can run forwards.
    One small correction. The lineman wasn’t behind the Arsenal defensive line, but ahead of it at the time of the final pass. Naismith also seemed to have his whole body in an offside position, so it should have been simple to spot and as you say it would have been 1-0 at half time, and who knows how the game would have developed from then on.

  8. Walter, true but for me, the standards are going down. How many times do you find yourself watching a game and asking “if tackle A was a foul, why wasn’t tackle B?”

  9. As Brian Clough famously said: If the player isn’t interfering with play, what’s he doing on the pitch?

  10. Don

    You might want to look at point 6 again its not complete.

    I don’t want to get in the debate again about the offside as there was no doubt about it but I do doubt that the officials are any worse now than they were in the past.

    What the difference is the way in which football is broadcast and in particular the number of replays and the TVs need to create talking points to fill the seemingly endless hours allocated to football.

  11. … and the next stage (if god forbid Giroud is out for a long time) will be – “Arsenal missed out AGAIN when they didn’t sigh Mario Ballotelli” (or some of that rubbish).

    All too predictable.

    I really hope the big guy is ok.

  12. When you look at the replays of Evertons 2nd goal you can clearly see the linesman had a perfect, unobstructed view across the back line.

    He was not out of position.

    There where no obstructions in his line of sight.

    He was clearly looking directly across the pitch.

    He was in the perfect position with the perfect view.

    It was IMPOSSIBLE for him NOT to see the Everton player ahead of the Arsenal players and therefore see that he was clearly ‘Off-side’

    It is therefore impossible to draw any other conclusion than the linesman knowingly CHEATED by allowing play to continue.

    And as usual nobody gives a toss, least of all the PGMOL or there bosses in the media.

  13. I am not sure I am comfortable with labeling officials cheats but there is something in the anti-Arsenal vein that is gathering momentum.

    I blame the press and then weak officials.

  14. What a time for OG12 to be injured!The only good thing about Giroud’s unfortunate injury is that Giroud-haters will rest a while, having their favorite target taken from them. I wish him a speedy return to the bisiness of sticking it in. In the net I mean.

  15. On the Giroud thing. He is a great target man and would be top class in a 4-4-2 or in the 4-3-3 with the other strikers running off him.

    In my opinion, we need an Ian Wright type strikers whose sole interest is in scoring goals. We have enough “ballers” in the team. We need a selfish bastard.

  16. Stan The Man
    ‘The only good thing about Giroud’s unfortunate injury is that Giroud-haters will rest a while’
    They will not rest, bank on it, they will switch to someone else. I suggest it will be Ozil, Wilshere or Sanchez. The knives are being sharpened as we speak.

  17. Mick, its already happening over at LG. I wonder if Poldis situ might change now?Of course we dont know anything really about whats really going on…
    COYG! Aha and Amen!

  18. The more I see of these incidents……and not the first time involving Everton……and the more I see reports from experienced refs on here, the more dubious these refs become. Mistakes, even incompetence are to a degree understandable, but both should be more even handed should that be all that’s going on. Would love to know the full disclosures from Walters sources on such things, whilst realising why he cannot tell all, but that ref looked to me either a homer, a careerist…..or perhaps both.
    Hope Mr Friend and Naismith live happily ever after.

  19. Wonder what delights UEFA have in store for our qualifier….anything less than an acceptable standard, hope the crowd let him have it.
    That’s part of the problem…..some of our most vocal fans in conjunction with the media refuse to accept there is anything wrong with the refereeing, blaming all on Wenger

  20. An interesting article Don.

    We are seeing far too many errors by the officials, almost in every match and almost always to Arsenal’s detriment – it has never balanced out for Arsenal – the question is – why?

    Does the answer to that question have a partially common answer to the reason the PGMO(L) are dragging their feet over the introduction of video technology?

  21. Will

    “I am not sure I am comfortable with labeling officials cheats but there is something in the anti-Arsenal vein that is gathering momentum.

    I blame the press and then weak officials.”

    Broadly speaking I agree with you. If you have read my posts before you will know that I have always contested that the Referees have not got an agenda ‘per se’ of there own but simply follow the rules as laid down by the media. IE Arsenal shall get nothing and be stitched up on a regular basis.

    But other than ‘cheating’ I have no other word to describe the actions of the linesman on this particular occasion.

  22. The disallowed goal in Sunday’s Barcelona game was described as an easy decision for the Lino by the same broadcaster from the Everton Arsenal game. Because it was.

    If people are concerned about the difficulty of the job the officials have to do, then they could look at hockey and ALL other related sports to see how the administrators of these sports support their officals and the concept of fair play with the application of technology. It’s not hard to do it.

    In the meantime we have witnessed the indefensible spectacle of games that people pay money to watch where the PGMOB were happy to send off an Arsenal player for wearing the wrong the colour shirt and for having the wrong colour skin.

  23. I bet we are NEVER going to hear from PGMOL’s PR or Technical or any department on this.
    In my view though, it should still be the collective responsibility of the EPL club owners to get independent reviews of the PGMOL done and to insist upon getting better or improving services from PGMOL. It is wrong to contract out for a service, pay for the service and then not pay attention to the quality of the service being rendered.

  24. What was the PGMOBs stat that they published on offside calls: something incredulous like 99% of all calls are correct?

    If they are prepared to publish such obvious lies on such a relatively minor issue, why would anyone waste their time and attempt to defend these people who at best cannot count (slightly important their job, you’d think) and can be seen by all observers to be infinitely incompetent.

    Not forgetting the incredible stat that there are no referees selected by these administrators from the part of the country that produces the most footballers, for quite a few years now.

  25. Shakabula Gooner

    There’s the conundrum. AS you say the PGMOL is part funded by The Premier League so you would expect a better service, but a conflict of interest would develop if they hired an outside agency to investigate what is in effect their part owned organisation.
    No show by Webb again this week.

  26. I was watching the game on TV and I had on BBC’s Radio 5’s ‘6 0 6′ phone in programme at one point we heard this: “There’s been a second goal at Everton. We were then giving a repot of the’goal’ by the reporter at the game.
    He finished his report on a’spectacular goal by Everton’. ‘And’

    The two presenters of ‘6 0 6’ said in unison. ‘The goal was offside’. However later they reported on a ‘great’ second goal by Everton.

  27. The idea by Shakabula has merit. In industry the concept of the “independent expert” is well established and is often resorted to in an effort to resolve or help resolve disputes.

    Now the FA may not permit Arsenal to sanction an “independent” ref to review the match ref – but on consideration – the excellent UA ref reviews are already available.

    While all sorts of PGMO(L) apologists will state that UA reviews are not independent – they would have difficulty arguing with their content – so can we raise the profile of the UA reviews?

  28. Colario

    The general take on the game from the media was that Everton where very good, especially in the first half, and we where poor and lucky to ‘escape’ with a draw.

    I heard Wenger get it in the neck for playing the same way as last year at the back with Monreal at left back.

    For all our faults and Evertons magnificence Everton managed just ONE, yes ONE legal shot on target in the entire game.

    I’d hate to see Everton on an off day.

    It was similar reporting on our game against Palace. A game in which I believe the stats showed us to of out shot, out passed and out possessioned just about every other team in the PL.

    I’m not saying we where brilliant, or that the stats tell everything, but against such stats, to suggest that on both occassions we where ‘lucky’ is a crock of shit.

    It seems if we fail to play the opposition off the park and win by a cricket score it constitutes a poor performance and a lucky result.

    And the worst thing is a lot of our fans seem to follow that line as well. Even Arsenal TV suggested we where ‘lucky’ to get a draw on Saturday

  29. I Hi to all fellow Gunners…my first time joining your chat, although I have been reading the articles (the ones with any sense of objectivity and truth in relation to all other rubbish one reads on the internet these days) and have often thought of joining in, only to later see someone has written exactly what I would have written!!

    I just want to add to this post by saying its about time AFC took legal action and have an independent authority appointed by the legal system in the UK. This may get the attention of the FA and see that AFC and its fans have had enough of their antics…AF was bad enough…but now he is gone the refs are going independent against our beloved club!!

    Gunner for life!

  30. Just one word on the difficulty with the offside decisions which I am sure both Don and Walter would recognize.

    It is that the law requires the officials to be looking in two different places at the same time – namely the player with the ball for the moment they are playing the ball and the player potentially in an offside position.

    The only possible excuse on Saturday is that Naismith was moving forward rapidly and this caused the Assistant referee to think he may have been level and onside at the point the ball was played. Against this the two relevant players were relatively close together and should have both been within the Assistant Referee’s line of vision simultaneously.

    Without question this problem is (nearly?) always resolved by cameras and this is yet another reason to expedite the use of video evidence by fourth officials to enable the referee to get the decision right. And no issue of time delay here the referee has the game stopped and it is solely whether it be restarted with a free kick or kick off.

  31. Apparently we are in market for another striker, Danny Welbeck, Wat the hell are the media smoking down there?

  32. Vintage Gooner

    For 4 years whilst injured I ran the line. It is NOT difficult.

    Peripheral vision and sound as well as rapid looks from ball to across the back line all aid to make calling offsides nothing like as difficult as you seem to be suggesting.

    And even if it is occasionally a tough close call, that decision on Saturday was not one of them.

    -The pass was made from a position easily within the linesmans Peripheral vision. It was actually close to his ‘line of sight’ at that distance.

    -It wasn’t a matter of a defender ‘pushing up’ at speed, crossing a forward advancing at speed. It was a retreating back line and a slightly miss timed ‘run’ or ‘pass’ whichever way you want to look at it.

    -The linesman was not moving at speed but almost, if not totally static.

    -The linesman was ‘square on’ looking directly ‘across the line’

    And this is the point.

    The Linesman was in the perfect position, with the perfect view, of a clear cut infringement, and yet failed to call it.

    Either he is diabolical at his job, in which case, as would happen to me, he should be disciplined for it.

    Or he’s a cheat, plain and simple.

    I cannot abide this preposition that it is a difficult job, or at least a job that is too tough for officials to get right even in the most obvious of cases.

    Brain surgery is difficult. Running the line at a f***ing football match is not !!!

  33. apo Armani – unfortunately there is a Fifa rule that says that any club that challenges its FA or League in the courts must be banned from all competitions at once.

  34. Vintage Gooner.

    Humans have good vision across an horizontal plain of about 110 degrees, which obviously equates to around 55 degrees either side of an object directly in front of you.

    By good vision we are talking about the area in which we as humans still have binocular vision which is what enables us to perceive distance.

    55 degrees either side of central covers a pretty extensive area of a football field that you are seeing clearly.

    Obviously the closer to you the play is the more limit your good visual field becomes as further away makes things more difficult for obvious reasons.

    I would suggest about 20 to 25 yards in front of you (a distance at which both passer and receiver in this case would be about 35 to 45 degrees apart) would be pretty much perfect for seeing EXACTLY what did happened.

    Unless of course you don’t want to see it of course.

    Sorry to get all technical but this issue about the difficulty of seeing both passer and receiver at the same time, in 99% of cases just doesn’t hold water.

  35. So we challenge and are banned. Then what?

    Or a supporters club challengers the laws of the FA or Fifa or the PMGOL. Who does FIFA ban?

  36. And one last thing on this.

    What I’m talking about isn’t even getting into the area of peripheral vision. That more or less is the non binocular vision outside the parameters I mentioned above, that in Humans extends to almost 180 degrees.

    Most of of use use our peripheral vision extensively, and well, in day to day life, not least when driving.

    We make regular, crucial, decisions in our cars on what we see peripherally all the time. If we did not we would be dead.

    Footballers do it all the time. It is part of the make of those special players that seem to have ‘eyes in the back of there heads’.

    And this is the vision way outside what I was talking about above.

    For those that don’t believe me have a look into it and see how difficult this being a linesman really ISN’T.

  37. apo Armani – unfortunately there is a Fifa rule that says that any club that challenges its FA or League in the courts must be banned from all competitions at once.

    Is that true?

  38. @Will, If that is true; would seem to me the the FA is over and above the laws of the land!

  39. To me there is a very strong case of loss of (major) income in the case of wrong doing by a ref of a game…it could mean elimination from a major competition, being left out of CL etc…MILLIONS are at stake as well as the feeling of being cheated on – by UNFAIR PLAY (against FIFA bantering (FAIR PLAY)!

  40. apo Arrmani

    It’s not the FA that’s “over and above the rules of the land”, but FIFA. They rule the world.

  41. oldgroover

    Whilst I totally get what you are saying…There are higher powers then FIFA especially when it comes to International law…I would hope!!

  42. Mike T……….I could NOT include all the elements from the offside LAW 11 and all the FIFA decisions and advisements related to it….this article would have been 100 pages long:)
    To those who claim that being an assistant is somehow fairly easy and that running sideways,backwards, cross-legged etc. is second nature for officials, I can attest and I am sure Walter as well, that running the line is an art and less a science. the biggest challenge for a goos assistant is to keep contact with the official (who is never in the same place for more than a second or two) and the 2nd last defender. The art in managing offside is in watching the ball being played and perhaps 20-30 yards further ahead, the 2nd to last defender AND then judging IF the opponent is level with or behind the defender, is gaining an advantage, is distracting an opponent etc. This is all done is a matter of seconds… what amazes me is that most assistants get it right the first time….since there is NO second chance!

  43. I might add that fortunately an erroneous offside given is usually NOT noticed by the majority of players and managers BUT is almost always noticed by at least 50% of the spectators. Therefore the officials don’t get too much stick from the on-field portion of the participants but do gt it from some fans.

  44. There has been studies done regarding how difficult it is for a human to judge accurately in these situations and I believe from memory they showed that we are not physiologically suited to doing so in certain situations, however this particular call seemed to be a very obvious offside and not one you would expect an experienced official to get wrong, or even an inexperienced one for that matter.

  45. omgarsenal

    “To those who claim that being an assistant is somehow fairly easy and that running sideways,backwards, cross-legged etc”

    This is what I mean about exaggerating the difficulties. I know you have your tongue firmly in your cheek here but the truth is they very rarely run sideways. Very rarely backwards. And never with there legs crossed 🙂

    Running with your eyes open watching the game IS NOT DIFFICULT.

    I’m sorry but people have got to stop making excuses for our pathetic cheating officials.

  46. jambug
    “I’m sorry but people have got to stop making excuses for our pathetic cheating officials”

    True that. We have, over the years, seen countless times where linesman have managed to correctly flag off sides where the attacking player’s head, shoulder or even nose was offside. If they can do it with such accuracy and such regularity, how then can we explain Naismith’s offside when he was a full yard off, the lineman was static, almost squatting and with nothing in front of him to obstruct him. The ball was being played at his nearside of the pitch as well, not the far side which could have made things a little trickier. People, let’s STOP making excuses for the lineman, and defend the indefensible.

  47. @Al, Jambug, OMGArsenal, and all,

    You all have a point, but what you are all missing, that despite the linesman job is hard enough, this specific linesman has hurt us a lot of times in the past.

    By the way who was Arsenal stoke match assistant who Foy ruled his decision to deny us a goal through offside After the shot by Poldi from FK, is it him too?

  48. Seems strange that we harp on about democracy, would not tolerate a dictator and yet we tolerate an organisation that is a dictator.

    “Strange humans to understand” says my alien friend.
    “Yes” I reply.

  49. Funny, I was just thinking about the last 2 games the female linesman had for us.

    In the 1st game she made a call favouring Arsenal and whilst it was the right decision, the commentators had hoped it was a wrong decision, and then the plundits all agreed that ” she’s a jolly good fellow” – coming as this match did.. following discovery of sexism by Gray + Keys.

    However, in the next match she ran the line at Arsenal, she made a wrong decision – near the end of a game – which would have made the result better for us. We haven’t seen her since.

    Anybody remember these games/incidents?

    Here (unnecessarily) is a photo of TV getting acquainted with SM:

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