Interfering with an opponent (offside case study)

Interfering with an opponent, what is that exactly? In this blog post two examples fully explained. Both goals you’ll seem to count in the first place, but were disallowed. Some lessons about the Laws of the Game, plus some tips to manage the situation.

The first clip is from 2021 in the game between FC Twente and Heerenveen. The clip below starts at 7 min 20s. Important task for you: write down what your decision is and why. 

Interfering with an opponent in Eredivisie

So, what was your decision? Here’s with a few images what happened. The attacker is in an offside position at the moment of the pass, but doesn’t touch the ball. How can this be offside, you might think. Because he blocks the defender, he is interfering with an opponent. Below situation 2 a full text of the Laws of the Game.

How to manage such a rare situation

A situation like this is rare and referee Jeroen Manschot managed it well. He came over to the coach and explained why he disallowed the goal. Coach Ron Jans said to ESPN that he really appreciated this gesture by the referee, as the coaching staff thought it was a legal goal.

Reaction from the referee

Referee Jeroen Manschot realised during the game there was interference by the red attacker. Once the VAR confirmed the attacker was in offside position, the referee disallows the goal. “Then a double substitution takes place and I see the FC Twente bench and coach express dissatisfaction with the decision”, Jeroen Manschot explains to Dutch Referee Blog. “So I decided to use that moment to explain why the goal was rejected.”

Curious why he went himself? “Because the 4th official was busy with the double substitution, I chose to go myself, as then commotion will stop sooner”. By explaining such a decision it “provides more understanding from the people on the bench”.

Reaction from the players

Manschot says the players on the field understood almost immediately. The player who scored the disallowed goal also talked about the incident. “Yeah, my team-mate is in offside position, sets a block to help me, so it’s not a valid goal.”

But how would you ideally restart the game? More about that below.

Restart when interfering with an opponent

A reader pointed out to me as well the following about the restart. It’s in the Laws of the Game op page 100.

“In situations where a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent’s progress (e.g. blocks the opponent), the offence should be penalised under Law 12”

So a thought for yourself: how would you restart the game now?

Example 2: Daniel Stefański

The Polish refereeing team made a great call you can learn from in their game between Dynamo Kyiv and Slavia Prague. At first glance the goal seems to count, but the refereeing team was making sure to get clear what happened. Who were involved? Who was in offside position?

Below you can see the video of the match situation. But before you watch, try to write down the criteria for offside. Focus on interfering with an opponent. Below the video you’ll get an explanation, but it’s a good exercise to share your own thoughts first.

Match situation 2

You’ll notice the assistant referee moving away from the goal-line, because that is the signal a ball has crossed the line. But in the meantime referee Daniel Stefański keeps talking with assistant referee Dawid Igor Golis.

If you check the clip again, you’ll notice two players in an offside position. The goal scorer is not. The question now is: what is the role of the players in offside position? Do you know what the Laws of the Game say about this?

Referee Daniel Stefański

LOTG on interfering with an opponent

The Laws of the Game are clear on this matter. A player who is in offside position after a pass from a team-mate “is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by interfering with an opponent”. And this are the criteria for it:

  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

The latter is crucial, because that is what blue attacker 19 does. At the moment of the pass he is in offside position. When he walks away from the goal-line he runs into a defender, who has no longer the chance to play the ball.

So a great call by the refereeing team. Biggest lesson: always communicate as refereeing team.

Interfering with an opponent: Dawid Igor Golis has flagged.

Shot on goal blocked with hand

Shot on goal blocked with hand: a new case study is live. In this blog story you’ll learn more about the considerations for the correct disciplinary action.

The video below starts at 2m42s. You’ll see an incident of a shot on goal being blocked by a defender. As always I advise you to watch it and decide for yourself if it’s a foul and what disciplinary action you’d take (plus reason for it).

Is it a deliberate handball or not

First of all you have to determine whether it’s a deliberate handball. It’s interesting to hear the VAR talk about the position of the arm. Is it close or far away of the body? When they got that clear, that is what they show to the referee. As the referee arrives at the monitor he can clearly see the point of contact. In this case the arm is sticking out of the body and the player makes himself unnaturally bigger.

Shot on goal blocked with hand (example of VAR)

What disciplinary action to take?

Not much debate about the handball itself, I think. Handball box ticked. But how do you deal with it then? The most crucial consideration is: Does the player prevent an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball?

The Laws of the Game do not specify when a shot on goal is denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO) or stopping a promissing attack (SPA). The LOTG do say this:

“There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for
unsporting behaviour, including if a player handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack.”

But is do we consider this DOGSO or SPA, that’s the question.

Shot on goal blocked with hand is mostly SPA

In this case there is a goalkeeper in the goal. If there’s one in the goal, there a huge chance that the goalkeeper is able to save the ball. So DOGSO is off the table here.

Greg Barkey from PRO says in the video a yellow card is a correct decision. That’s in line with general guidelines about this. At Uefa is taught that Stopping a shot at goal should normally be deemed as stopping a promissing attack, therefore the offender must also be cautioned.

Actions when it’s not a shot on goal

But sometimes situations are not so clear as in this clip. Then you should keep this in mind for actions when there’s no shot on goal:

  • When it’s a cross into the penalty area, normally a yellow card is not required.
  • The exception is when the ball clearly stops a promising attack, for example as the pass goes to a team-mate in a promising attacking position.

I hope you learned something out of this. I do recommend to watch PRO’s Inside Video Review more often.

More inspiration via Man in the Middle

And if you want to know more about top level refereeing? Make sure to watch Uefa’s documentary Man in the Middle (with lots of subtitles as well).

Advantage after reckless challenges

A new case study: advantage after reckless challenges. It’s a situation from the Rivier Derby between Dortmund and Schalke’04 earlier in 2020. Referee Deniz Aytekin gives the advantage after a reckless challenge and a goal is scored. But what do you do with the tackle? What is the correct disciplinary sanction? That’s what you’ll learn in this case study.

Continue reading

Goalkeepers and penalty kicks

Goalkeepers and penalty kicks: what does the referee have to do if a goalkeeper does not touch the line when the kick is taken? And is there any difference if the ball is not saved, but goes wide? You’ll learn about that in this case study.

Since 2019 the Laws of the Game clearly mention that the goalkeeper has to be on or above the goal-line. With the use of VAR in the the 2019 Women’s World Cup we noticed something really new. Where goalkeepers usually take a step forward with penalty kicks, the video referee interferes at this final tournament in Paris.

But is the VAR correct to do so?

At that time, yes VAR was. But due to a recent Laws of the Game change, there are situations where play continues even if the goalkeeper was too early from the line. But when? That’s what we’ll see in the examples below.

A retake is ordered in this situation

Firstly, we’ll watch the game between Scotland and Argentina. The Argentinian penalty kick is saved, but the referee orders a retake. 

And what do the Laws of the Game say: When the ball is kicked, the defending goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching, or in line with, the goal line.

Although the goalkeeper coming of her line here is only visible by VAR, the fact is that she is very slightly of her line and she saves the ball.

And have we seen this before?

Yes, during a men’s game when Dutch referee Björn Kuipers was active at the 2016 European Championships. “Unfortunately, that goalkeeper moved forward, it was not spotted by the referee’s team”, Collina said then. Check out the situation.

Same, but slightly different penalty in France vs Nigeria

In the previous situation the ball was saved by the goalkeeper, but sometimes the goalkeeper has no influence on the outcome. That’s what we’ll see at the penalty kick in the game between France and Nigeria. VAR Danny Makkelie asks the referee to go the screen, after which she awards a penalty kick. In the clip below at 5 minutes and 10 seconds that awarded penalty kick is taken. As you can see, Wendie Renard from France misses it, but the VAR intervenes.

But what makes this a different situation? Lets see below the clip.

Video highlights of that game

We remember the LOTG about the goalkeeper touching the line? Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie from Cameroon is not touching the line with at least one foot. But did she have an influence?

Interesting is what the commentator in the clip says at that time. “In fairness to referee Melissa Borjas” she has told the goalkeeper she needs to stay with two feet on the goal-line.

The referee then warns the referee for the second kick and asks her if she understood the rules. But the IFAB has concluded with all football associations that a goalkeeper who has no impact on the kicker or does not save the ball, should not be punished.

The Laws of the Game now say: if the goalkeeper offends: if the ball misses the goal or rebounds from the crossbar or goalpost(s), the kick is only retaken if the goalkeeper’s offence clearly impacted on the kicker.

With the 2020-2021 Laws of the Game the France – Nigeria penalty should not be retaken.

VAR Protocol

The VAR protocol is added to the Laws of the Game and is very clear on this matter.

Protocol says: “The categories of decision/incident which may be reviewed in the event of a potential clear and obvious error or serious missed incident are” in the category “goal/no goal”:

  • offence by goalkeeper and/or kicker at the taking of a penalty kick or
  • encroachment by an attacker or defender who becomes directly involved in play if the penalty kick rebounds from the goalpost, crossbar or goalkeeper

Other encroachment offences and other infringements which do not directly affect whether a goal is scored cannot be reviewed.” See a case study about encroachment by players.

Read the full VAR protocol

How it changes things

Because the 1/8 final game between Norway and Australia went to kicks from the penalty mark, referee Riem Hussein had to deal with a unique situation. IFAB has given dispensation to not book goalkeepers (more about that below), but as referee you don’t want 10 out of 10 kicks being retaken.

What Hussien did was a long talk with both goalkeepers to prevent that from going to happen.

Referee Riem Hussein talking with the Norwegian and Australian goalkeeper

No yellow cards during kicks from the penalty mark

During the 2019 Women’s World Cup there would not be yellow cards for goalkeepers for leaving the goal-line during kicks from the penalty mark.

In the 2020-2021 Laws of the Game there was a permanent change. The goalkeeper will be verbally warned for the first offence in the penalty shootout if that had an impact on the player or the outcome. They only get shown a yellow card for the second offence during the series of kicks from the penalty mark.

Below an explantion from IFAB for this law change.

Mellissa Borjas shows goalkeeper a yellow card

IFAB explanation of the idea behind the rule change

The IFAB has put it this way in the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game pdfs.

“Goalkeepers are not permitted to stand in front of or behind the line. Allowing the goalkeeper to have only one foot touching the goal line (or, if jumping, in line with the goal line) when the penalty kick is taken is a more practical approach as it is easier to identify than if both feet are not on the line. As the kicker can ‘stutter’ in the run, it is reasonable that the goalkeeper can take one step in anticipation of the kick.”

To be clear: that a goalkeeper has to be on his or her line is not new. It’s just clarified.

In the 2020-2021 edition IFAB added about the verbal warning:

  • Most goalkeeper encroachment results from mis-anticipating when the ball will be kicked, so the goalkeeper should not be cautioned for a first offence but must be cautioned for any further offence(s) at that kick and/or any subsequent kick

Also new on goalkeepers and penalty kicks

“The referee must not signal for the penalty kick to be taken if the goalkeeper is touching the goalposts, crossbar or net, or if they are moving e.g. the goalkeeper has kicked/shaken them.”

Handball before goal is scored: a case study

Handball before goal is scored. A new situation in the Laws of the Game, explained with text and video in this blog post. Make sure that you know how to handle from the 2019-2020 season onwards.

Because of the recent law changes, you need to make a different decision as referee compared to previous seasons. The scenes are from the game between Manchester City and Tottenham. Referee Michael Oliver allows the goal, but then VAR tells him to wait.

Update: Below I’ve added a clip from German Bundesliga as well.

Handball before goal? Referee Michael Oliver waits for the video referee.

Have a look and make a decision.

The video

Explanation of handball before goal

What was your call?

A quick recap. The score is 2-2 and there is a corner kick for the Citizens. The cross comes in and touches and touches Laporte’s arm, but it seems not deliberate by the City player. His teammate Gabriel Jesus receives the ball and scores.

Referee Michael Oliver disallows the goal after VAR intervention. But isn’t the handball accidental?

Yes, I’d say so.

Why does the referee and VAR then make the call to disallow the call? Check out the explanation below about the LOTG changes.

Laws on handball before goal

It’s an offence if a player: gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:

  • scores in the opponents’ goal
  • creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

The second bullet is crucial here, as a teammate of Laporte gets a goal-scoring opportunity (he scores actually).

The reason for the law change

The reasoning behind this law change? IFAB explains in the Laws of the Game book: “Football expects a player to be penalised for handball if they gain possession/ control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity.

NB: it is the second goal from Gabriel Jesus that is disallowed by the video referee. The previous goal was the first in history in the English Premier League.

Match situation in Germany

Question for you

In this situation VAR tells referee Michael Oliver that there is handball before the goal. Do you prefer the referee to do an on-field review (OFR) or is it fine for you if the VAR tells the referee what to decide? (please reply)

Ball touches match official and referee scores a goal

When the ball touches match official and the referee scores a goal. You think this part of the laws are not needed and you wonder why this is added to the 2019-2020 Laws of the Game? Because it really happens sometimes, as you can see in Dutch amateur football.

The referee has to allow the goal in this case, but what is the decision in 2019-2020? Read more about that below the video.

Reaction from the referee

The referee was very open about the situation above one day later in the media. Of course he felt terrible ‘and I am not proud of it’. He explains what happens. “As you can see on the footage, it was a messy situation for the goal. I am assuming that the ball is shot to the second post, but it is coming short. I am still trying to dodge the ball, but it touches my foot and went straight into the goal.”

At that moment he wants to disappear, as he knew he has to allow the goal. It went from 3-1 to 3-2 due to that goal and then it’s very important to stay focused as a referee. Luckily the goal did not influence the result, as the home team won with 4-2.

The referee expects a ball at the second post, but it’s played shortly and he “scores” a goal

LOTG 2019-2020: when ball touches match official

Situations like this will not happen again in the next seasons. As you know there are a three reasons when the ball is out of play. Two are the common ones that have always been in the Laws of the Game:

  • When the ball as wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
  • Or when play has been stopped by the referee

But the third reason is new: when the ball touches a match official and remains on the field of play. Not in all cases, but the referee has to stop play if

  • a team starts a promising attack or
  • the ball goes directly into the goal or
  • the team in possession of the ball changes

In all these cases, play is restarted with a dropped ball. But in 2019-2020 the LOTG mention a new way of restarting for a situation mentioned above …

Restart with dropped ball in penalty area

Because the ball is in the penalty area when touched by the referee, the restart is a little different now. The 2019-2020 Laws of the Game say:

“The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped

  • the ball was in the penalty area or
  • the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area”

Thanks, Peter, for mentioning it in the comments.

(Below some personal experiences, feel free to share yours when you touched the ball by accident)

Personal cases

My personal case was a bit odd. I was following play on the left side of the field of play. Then the midfielder shot the ball at chest height and I had no chance to move away. If I wasn’t there, the ball would have gone out of play.

Because of my touch, the opposing team gets ball posession. They pass a few times and shoot on goal. An easy one, you think. But then the goalkeeper lets the ball slip through her fingers and a goal is scored. Even though there was no chance to move away from the ball, you feel sorry for the goal being scored.

What are your experiences with touching the ball?