Offside calls raise questions
Published: 30.10.12 / Written by: David Gold
The weekend’s football in the Premier League will be dominated by the issues coming out of the match at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester United.
Whether Fernando Torres deserved to be sent off or not will understandably be the centre point for most analysis of the stormy encounter.
But that risks overshadowing the more crucial questions arising from the weekend, particularly the issue of offside. Luis Suarez in particular must feel like all are against him after a clearly onside goal was ruled out against Everton which would have won Liverpool the Merseyside derby. Ironically, Everton themselves have been on the end of unfortunate refereeing decisions regarding offside calls already this season.
It was not just Everton benefiting this weekend. Arsenal and Manchester United scored crucial late winning goals with similar fortune. For Arsenal, Mikel Arteta ran back from practically on the goalline, and clearly being offside, to notch the winner against Queens Park Rangers. United beat Chelsea thanks to Javier Hernandez’ opportunistic finish, scrambling back from the goalline to turn in Rafael’s shot.
Both were clearly offside, just as Suarez was blatantly onside, yet on all occasions the wrong decision was made. In the case of the Arsenal and United games, the officials could be forgiven a touch – the speed at which the ball was moving and the number of incidents in the seconds leading up to each goal could understandably be distracting.
Yet there is a very easy solution to such a problem. This is a place where technology could be useful. Using technology and video replays, you could easily and quickly determine whether a player is onside or offside within a matter of seconds. Offside is a black and white issue, rather than a subjective one like whether a player has dived or not. As such, there is a clear place for technology to determine whether a goal is offside or not.
There are few logical reasons against it. There are still plenty of talking points to keep controversy in the game, just look at the Torres red card at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The integrity of the game would be strengthened by knowing that offside calls have been made correctly, without easily avoidable errors casting a shadow over top level football.
It would also be a way for the authorities to win back trust. Referees would surely welcome it, a useful tool to help them get decisions correct. Whilst it is also important for FIFA to use technology where possible to boost the integrity of the game. There is a clear line beyond which they should not cross, where decisions can no longer be made with technology – but it is surely key that for those decisions which can be determined with such replays, that they are.