VAR disallows goal in Champions League

VAR disallows goal in Champions League. A historical decision, but is it the right one? A case study from a refereeing point of view.

It’s a match situation in the game between Ajax and Real Madrid. The referee is Damir Skomina and the video referee is Szymon Marciniak.

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Check out the highlights of the situation. Below you’ll find the explanation.

How VAR disallows goal in Champions League

Because it is so difficult in real-time, you need a VAR to check this moment.

De Ligt heads the ball towards the Real Madrid goal. At that moment Dusan Tadic and Nicolás Tagliafico are not in offside position yet, which means that they will not be punished for gaining advantage.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is catching the ball, but is unable to clear it. Nicolás Tagliafico goes to the ball and heads now towards the goal. The moment of that header is key here, because that’s what gives us the right decision.

Dusan Tadic is in offside position at the moment of the header.

How can someone be in active play?

How can someone be in active play when in offside position?

Option 1: by interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate.

In this case Dusan Tadic does not touch the ball.

Option 2:  interfering with an opponent.

But how can someone interfere with an opponent? By:

  • 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

There is contact between Dusan Tadic and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, but is that enough? For me this action has an impact on the goalkeeper’s movements, which makes him unable to play the ball or go to the ball. For me he’s interfering with an opponent, which means the offside call is correct.

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VAR disallows goal in Champions League

Scoring directly from a corner kick

Scoring directly from a corner kick. Is that allowed? But does the referee need to whistle? An interesting case study with AZ player Oussama Idrissi.

Idrissi scoring directly from a cornere kick


The referee gives no signal to take the corner kick.

Whistle or not?

The Laws of the Game give advice on when you whistle as referee, but a referee does not require it in all situations.

Because the following restarts are clear, the referee does NOT need to whistle to restart play from:

  • most free kicks,
  • and a goal kick,
  • corner kick,
  • throw-in
  • or dropped ball

Idrissi can take this corner kick, because waiting for a whistle is not mandatory. The AZ goal is legal.

Corner kick procedure

Just a quick recap of the corner kick procedure. The requirements are that the ball:

  • must be placed in the corner area nearest to the point where the ball passed over the goal line
  • has to be stationary and is kicked by a player of the attacking team
  • is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area

There are two other requirements are that the corner flag remains at its place and oponents must remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play.

That’s okay here. And can you score? “A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing

All boxes ticked. A wonderful goal that will go around the globe.

Video: scoring directly from a corner kick

Watch the video below where Idrissi is scoring directly from a corner kick. It is a great example, because it is a rare situation.

Score a goal from a throw-in (case study)

Can you score a goal from a throw-in? That was the biggest question this weekend in the Bundesliga game VfB Stuttgart vs Bremen. Goalkeeper Zieler is not alert when a team-mate throws him the ball. But did he touch it? And what if: how do you restart play as referee?

A great video example to learn from in this case study.

Own goal from throw-in

LOTG: can’t score a goal from a throw-in

The Laws of the Game are very clear on this. “A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in”.

Do you know the correct restarts when it happens? Think about this, you’ll get the answers below.

But first the reaction of the goalkeeper on the German Sky channel. “I was very surprised myself”, he admits. Zieler didn’t really take notice of what really happened, because he didn’t see this coming. “Unfortunately, I touched the ball slightly, otherwise the goal would not have counted anyway.” 

Despite this error, all went well for his team VfB Stuttgart. His team won with 2-1. 

Restart if nobody touches the ball

The correct answers for the restart are if nobody touches the ball after it has been thrown:

  • if the ball enters the opponents’ goal – a goal kick is awarded
  • if the ball enters the thrower’s goal – a corner kick is awarded

Match scenes from the incident


Dissent by action (case study)

Dissent by action. A player applauds after you show him a yellow card. What do you decide?

Will you certainly show the second yellow card? Will you give a stern warning, because he’s already on a yellow? Or will you probably ignore him?

Dissent by action by Boetius

Jean-Paul Boëtius receives a yellow card by referee Pol van Boekel, but he disagrees. He applauds at the referee’s decision. He receives a second yellow card because of this. But what do the Laws of the Game say about this?

LOTG on dissent by action

The Laws of the Game mention that a yellow card is mandatory. “Because a player is cautioned if guilty of dissent by word or action.”

And what is dissent? The vocabulary in the LOTG clearly explains it. “Public disagreement (verbal and/or physical) with a match official’s decision; punishable by a caution (yellow card).”

Restart of the game?

Gestures towards the referee result in an indirect free kick. Applauding or other gestures are not the same as ‘offences against a match official’. This type of fouls are physical offences.

In the situation below, the restart is certainly not an indirect free kick. It’s a direct free kick, because play was already stopped due to the first physical foul.

Video of match situation

Wait and see technique in offside situations by the assistant referee

The wait and see technique is well-known in football. Assistant referees should not raise their flag too soon, but wait how play continues. This blog post contains three great offside examples to show how it works.

The first example comes from France in the 2018-2019 season.

What is your first thought when seeing a situation like this below? Offside probably, but nothing is what it seems.

Wait and see in France

Because when you have a clip of the full situation, you’ll notice that the player does not get involved in play. The player who passes the ball is the person who also touches it again.

Biggest lesson here: have the courage to wait. The next situations are a a bit more tricky. See below.

Wait and see by Marciniak

The second example is from a 2017-2018 Champions League game. Feyenoord plays at home against Manchester City and the referee is Szymon Marciniak. But I’d like to mention his assistant referee Tomasz Listkiewicz. I’ll analyse the situation below the video clip.

How important waiting is

The situation as it happened. Manchester City takes a corner kick and the ball does not get away. A Feyenoord defender blocks a shot from outside the box, but it’s not sufficient. There is a second shot on goal. As you can see, at the moment of the pass there is an attacker in offside position.

Wait and see technique at shot from Manchester City

Feyenoord goalie Jones saves this second shot and the striker in offside position is not yet active in play.  The Laws of the Game say the following about this. A player is interfering with an opponent by:

  • gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has (1) rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent or (2) been deliberately saved by any opponent

That is what happens here if the player in offside position gains the advantage. But is that the fact here?

Wait and see technique in LOTG

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) also mention the fact assistant referees need to see how play develops. The rulebook says: “The AR must use the “wait and see technique” to allow play to continue and not raise the flag when the team against which an offence has been committed will benefit from the advantage; it is therefore very important for the AR to make eye contact with the referee.”

And that is exactly what happens here. Although the player is in offside position, he is not active in play and does not interfere with an opponent. The assistant referee waits until someone touches the ball and that is an attacker who is not in offside position at the moment of the shot on goal.

So correct goal.

Great teamwork by the match officials and good use of the wait and see technique. I’d love to hear how they communicate in situations like this, because that makes it even more interesting. It gives us an even better idea how these calls are made.

Below another example.

Assistant referee Tomasz Listkiewicz.

 Situation in The Netherlands

The following situation is in The Netherlands, but it’s slightly different. You’ll see that striker Van Wolfswinkel is in offside position at the moment of the pass and he runs towards the ball. What would you decide in this situation? (start at 1m56s)

At the moment of the pass Van Wolfswinkel is clearly in offside position. But remember: being in an offside position is not a foul.

Van Wolfswinkel in offside position.

Interfering with play or an opponent

And then something interesting happens. Van Wolfswinkel (red circle in pic below) runs towards the ball, but does not touch it. And that is the crucial detail to make the correct decision, because that’s important to determine if someone is interfering with play or an opponent.

The player does not touch the ball, therefore he is not interfering with play. The LOTG mention that interfering with play means you’re “playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate.”

Players interfere with an opponent by:

  • 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 to him 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

Van Wolfswinkel is running towards the ball, but that does not meet the criteria above. His actions don’t have an impact on the opponent.

But he is the player who scores. What is in the LOTG about gaining advantage?

Van Wolfswinkel running towards the ball.

Gaining an advantage

I want to tell you something about gaining an advantage. But we forget one important thing. Is the other player in offside position? In the video you can see lines on the pitch. I’ve marked it purple below and you see the secondlast defender’s shoe is closer the goal-line.

Offside situation at moment of the pass

Gaining an advantage only applies when the ball rebounds from an opponent, crosbar,goalpost or match official. Or when a defender deliberately saves the ball. That’s not the case here. As a result, there  is a new situation at the moment the right winger receives the ball. When the right winger passes the ball back to Van Wolfswinkel, he is behind the ball. Correct goal and great wait and see technique there.

Do you remember any interesting situations like this? Let me know.

Interfering with an opponent (offside case study)

Interfering with an opponent, what is that exactly? 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.

The match situation

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.

5 summer holidays fitness tips for referees

5 summer holidays fitness tips. When the season is over you might want to relax, but don’t get too relaxed. Take a different approach, because that will get you in a different vibe.

What I did right after the summer break? I did some walks on the Scottish island Skye and went to The Hague’s beach for stand up paddling. This s0-called supping is great fun and will also train lots of different muscles. In this article you’ll get some great advice by fitness experts, like the Dutch pro referee fitness instructor.

Jan SUPping

The 5 summer holidays fitness tips

Here’s how to start with some excercises after a period of physical inactivity.

  1. Don’t do specific training sessions for 3-4 weeks. That’s the advice by Dutch referee fitness instructor Hilco de Boer. The idea behind it is: you give your mind and body a rest. Because your thoughts will be focused on other things than training sessions and games. “You’ll give your mind and body the time to recover from the season.”
  2. Measure how you improve. You could weigh yourself after you came back from the holiday and set yourself a goal for the coming weeks. Another way to get statistics how your performance improves is time your runs and see how you get faster after each training session.
  3. Go back into excercising gradually. Don’t start with a heavy training session. Just give your body a chance to build up the strength. After a holiday it’s not used to the heavy training sessions from before the summer break anymore.
  4. Eat in moderation. Don’t continue with holiday excesses like overeating and drinking too much. Yeah, they are mostly always there. It’s good to have a few weeks of relaxation – don’t forget to take psychological rest -, but now is the time to get back in your physical routine.
  5. Don’t start with running immediately, do some other sports. It’s good for your body to do some other sports before you ease into running again. Go cycling, play some football yourself or ask some friends to do a tennis or squash game. That’s also the advice from referee fitness instructor Hilco de Boer. Because when you do other sports, you’ll give your mind a good rest and different thing to focus on. When you want to start training again, the start gradually with running with this pre-season tips for referees.

Tips via Hilco de Boer, Run Washington, Lifestyle Asia and Slimforce.

What do you do during the summer break? Please share it below.

Jan and one of the summer holidays fitness tips: doing a different sport