Clint Dempsey’s Goal That Was Ruled Offside Against Lazio: Making an Argument Against Video Technology


In yesterday’s Europa League match between Tottenham and Lazio, Clint Dempsey’s goal was ruled offside. In viewing it on FoxSoccer2Go, it initially appeared to be onside. I took a screen print and then made lines across the pitch to try to see the role of the camera angle in determining whether a player is offside. As you can see, the camera angle makes a dramatic difference in the view across the pitch. Each of the lines to the right are exact layer copies of their equivalent color that mark across the players.

Unless the camera angle is exactly in line with the players in question, it is difficult — at best — to make a definitive call in a very close occurrence. This may be a good argument for not having electronic technology used to determine offside.

What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments section below.

12 thoughts on “Clint Dempsey’s Goal That Was Ruled Offside Against Lazio: Making an Argument Against Video Technology”

  1. Having multiple cameras completely eliminates that problem. Just like you need two eyes to perceive depth, you need multiple cameras to accurately find the player’s positions on the pitch. It’s actually not a hard problem to solve and most 4th year Engineering students could probably have a system working for you in a couple months.

  2. He is obviously offside in this picture if you look at where his feet are. You need a picture that’s right at the time of the pass, the ball is in the air already here.

  3. The yellow line on the left isn’t parallel with the surface. The near side of the field has it at about 40% to the next grassline section where as the far side of the field it is roughly at 60% to the next grassline section.

    He appears offside. While the ball is now in the air, this is how the ref would have seen it.

  4. This image is incorrect, the ball is already in the air use tube sock and capture the video. or even quicktime on your mac to record, just make sure you have he correct frame rate.

  5. ok, so I went back took 10 seconds of video that included the original footage and the replay that uses a different angle. and put it in final cut which allows smpte accuracy.

    So the realities of looking at this using the fox soccer2 go as video evidence for über accurate levels of detail is not realistic. Any compression algorithm used for web delivery will not have an accurate frame count, and when you get in this level of detail to determine weather it is or is not the right call or not then it is a very very fine line.

    That said, the original camera angle allows you to pick exactly when the ball is struck, the by the broadcast has already determined what the source frame is, which unfortunately is inaccurate as it shows the ball already in the air. So using the original camera angle as close a frame as possible with the footage already compressed, I looked at the parallel lines cut on the pitch (which are there to help assistance by the way) and as Bale strikes the ball Dempsey’s left foot looks to be level with the back other defenders foot as he is moving up. I dont think the linesman could see that in real time.

    With it being this close I guess it comes down to how that linesman wants to interpret the rule and give it in favor to the striker or defender.

    Dempsey didn’t appeal, but neither did the defender, the Lazio right back did instantly. even if the offside was correct It still doesn’t excuse the Caulker goal being disallowed. plus Dempsey was literally pulled to the ground by Klose on a set piece. The ref went easy on Lazio players that were on a yellow already but were still making bookable challenges. It was a poor night for the officials.

    i may be wrong but If a uefa official hears racism from the stands isn’t he supposed to report it immediately? if so how come the 5th official and the linesman didn’t say anything to the ref? anyways…

    Thank you for taking the time to analyze the footage Mr Harmon (sorry calling you dick could be taken the wrong way)

    1. @dust ” (sorry calling you dick could be taken the wrong way)” Not by me…no worries. Some people are given the name…some people earn it. I was and did… BTW, I cannot use it in my reply name as WordPress blocks it.


      I realize that the graphic is not perfect…it just struck me as something to consider when you read posters saying that a player was definitively offside or onside based on given camera angles.

      1. It could be fixed with technology but there is no desire to do so by the powers that be. It needent take longer than 10 seconds, in examples like this one you could give it and review it very quickly wiybout effecting the flow of the game, if it stands then kick off, if it is t the. Goal kick, all within 30 seconds.

  6. Anyone else think that part of the problem is that referees err on the side of calling a player offside rather than on? In my opinion, to use a baseball term, tie goes to the runner. If it’s a close call, referees should err on the side of the attacking side. This would especially be pertinent if any sort of video or computer models were put in to use; if a play is blown dead, any footage is unusable.

    1. IMO if it is always in favor of the attacker WITHOUT. Technology to review, it would change the game too much, teams would reluctantly play the offside trap meaning defense would be far more vulnerable and sit to deep. IF tech could be brought in then maybe.

      This is pie in the sky tho. No way would tech for this ever happen.

  7. The first problem with this screen shot is that if it were at the moment the ball was kicked, then the ball should barely be in sight if at all, given that the player’s back is to the sideline.

    The second is the implication the referee got this right for the right reasons. To have gotten this right would mean he was exactly in line with the last defender and saw that Dempsey’s foot was at most a foot ahead of the last defender at the time that the ball was kicked, when he is at a terrible angle to see exactly when the ball was kicked.

    Much more likely is that he was in pretty good position and if you move the screenshot ahead a few more fractions of a second, since Dempsey and the defenders are moving opposite directions, it looks like he is offsides at the moment the ball was perceived to have been kicked. There is no way video technology would be any less accurate than the naked eye.

  8. I think the point of the article is spot on. Whether or not the screen shot used it accurate or not doesn’t really matter in my opinion.

    I’m actually surprised that TV broadcasters (and advertisers) are not pushing more for video technology. If they were able to get reviews added to the game this could mean dropping in some commercials while the referee goes to the sideline to review it. I suppose this is somewhat cynical, especially since the 4th official (or even add a 5th or 6th official, why not?) could be reviewing it in real time and analysing replays.

    This would really only work best for goals though.

    Let’s say that a player is offside, but it’s really close. The linesman keeps his flag down and play goes on. Replays show that the player is offside, what then? Will the official watching the replay tell the referee to blow his whistle and stop play?

    Or say it’s the other way around, the player is flagged offside but is actually onside, do they allow play to go on until the replay shows definitively that he was off?

    For me personally, I would prefer that they add video (or other tech) for goals but leave other judgement calls to the referees. Using tech for offsides seems far too complicated and does take too much away from the referees.

    Having blown calls can be very costly, but it is (and always has been) a part of the game that then gives more talking points to the analysts and fans.

    If a referee blows a call or does a poor job, then the onus should be on the league to punish that referee. Leave him off the schedule for the next week and make him attend extra training or something along those lines. Do more to create better refereeing and consequences for poor refs.

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