Friday, June 27, 2008

Verdict In: Beckerman Was Onside

Here is the Lessons Learned from Week 13 by US Soccer that addresses the Controversy over Beckerman's disallowed goal against San Jose. The discussion clearly indicates that he was not in an offside position and the goal should have stood up. It does not directly address the issue over whether or not the referee consulted the scoreboard, but does address the actions and communication of both referee and assistant. Enjoy...

Video Clip 6: San Jose at RSL (77:55)

This is a complicated offside situation in which clear communication must occur between the referee and the AR. The clip must be watched carefully to understand the points of emphasis. The mechanics used to make the correct decision are critical to the success of the referee team.

As you view the clip, remember the approved mechanics (found in U.S. Soccer’s “Guide to Procedures” manual) that must be utilized when a goal is scored and the AR is not sure whether the player scoring the goal was offside or not: the AR must stand at attention at the corner flag, with his flag down, and not run up the touchline as he normally would to signal a goal.

From a corner kick, a defender is stationed 10 yards from the ball but off the goal line. All other defenders and attackers are further up field and further from the goal line than this defender. Off the service, an attacker heads the ball to goal but, in route, it is touched by another attacker who has advanced toward the goal. This attacker redirects the ball into the goal. This raises the question: Was the attacker, who redirects the ball into goal, in an offside position at the time the ball was headed/played by his teammate?

Freeze frame shows that the attacking player who scores is level with the second to last opponent at the moment his teammate heads the ball. Consequently, despite his being closer to the goal line at the time he plays/redirects the ball, the AR must take a snapshot of his position at the time of the header and must use this picture as the moment of judgment. This snapshot would then provide the evidence needed to allow the goal.

As this situation unfolded in the game, the AR was uncertain as to whether the player who redirected the ball into goal actually played the ball or the ball went directly into goal from the header. The replay shows that neither case should matter as the attacker redirecting the ball was onside at the moment of the header.

In a case where the AR is unclear as to whether a player in an offside position plays the ball (interfered with play by touching/playing the ball) or interferes with an opponent, the following mechanics should be followed:
  • Stand at attention at the corner flag
When the goal is scored, the AR must not run up the touch line and must remain standing at the corner flag. This is an indication to the referee that the AR is uncertain over the validity of the goal.
  • Referee makes visual contact with the AR
Prior to awarding a goal, the referee must make eye contact with the AR. If the AR is running up the touch line, it is an indication that the AR agrees with the goal. If the AR is standing at the corner flag, it is an indication that the AR has a question relating to the scoring of the goal.
  • Referee consults with the AR

Seeing the ARs position at the corner flag, the referee must approach him and determine why the AR has an issue. The consultation must be clear and concise. The AR must clearly communicate what he saw and why he has a question.

  • Make a decision

Based upon the information received from the AR and the referee’s own perception, the referee must make a decision and indicate that decision.

As with any offside decision, the AR should give the benefit of doubt to the attack. If this principle were applied in this clip, the goal would have been allowed. The decision is not easy due to the distance between the defender fronting the corner kick and the goal mouth action. But, ARs must possess the ability to evaluate the situation and position themselves correctly to make the split second judgment. Another key element to the success of a decision like this is the positioning of the AR. As soon as the corner kick is struck, the AR must immediately move to the offside position – in this case, in line with the defender who was positioned in front of the corner kick (the second to last defender). This position provides the ultimate view of the player’s movement in the drop zone of the ball and affords the AR the best chance to get the call correct.