It’s Time For Video Technology to be Introduced To Help Make Offside Decisions

What a mess I am in. Despite my love of modern tools, music and life, I have a broad traditionalist streak when it comes to my soccer. Then, despite my passion for Manchester United and my dislike of Liverpool and particularly Luis Suarez, I have to accept that this last weekend’s decisions were wrong and I will present a technology solution to them.

In both cases I can actually forgive/understand the assistant referee’s situation. They have to see or know when the ball was kicked AND look where the player is at that exact moment. In both cases (though perhaps less so with Arteta’s goal for Arsenal) the ball moved position so quickly that I have some sympathy for their decision making.

So my solution is – video technology for offside on goals. Whenever a goal is scored, the goal is given and the 4th official or new 5th official has time to review the video. If the player or players are determined to be offside, then the goal is disallowed. This could be done with some kind of signal or something more visible, and exciting, like a red/green flag system. Obviously this can only really be used in top flight games.

Now everyone I explain this to points out a flaw, but I have a response. The flaw they say is… what about moves where offside is called but it turns out that the player was not offside and a goal could have come from that move. To me this is easy and solved by human nature. If the referees know that the technology is going to give them the final decision on a goal, then they will be far less likely to make 50/50 subjective calls. A linesman should only call offside when he is 100% sure, yet we constantly see them making judgement calls (some would call them guesses). With this system they can rely on the the technology helping them if a goal is scored and if a goal is not scored there really is no harm.

I’m not really a fan of technology in football but I think anything that can stop the guessing that is occurring from match officials can only make things better. If you only do it for goals, then the big issues are corrected and the game is barely, if at all, delayed.

What do you think ?

31 thoughts on “It’s Time For Video Technology to be Introduced To Help Make Offside Decisions”

  1. I quite like your idea, and it would be interesting to see it implemented. Unfortunately though, at the moment, there is an extremely low chance of this happening.

  2. I actually don’t think this is a very hard problem for a computer to solve. You probably don’t even need a new official. I bet if you lock twenty CS grad students in a room, they could probably have a working system in a few months. It would have the advantage of being instantaneous.

  3. I think the addition of goal line technology is enough. The part of football that I like the most is the free-flowing play.

    You watch American football and there are more moments of non-action (between plays, change of possession, after scores) that I’ve lost interest.

    The same goes for baseball.

    With football (soccer), I like knowing that at the end of approximately two hours, there is going to be a result. And I’m focused on every pass and run that players make. It is like a chess match. Every move is important.

    I also enjoy the anticipation of a goal. Each time my team gets into the scoring half or when the opposition enters our half, I am anxious.

    I don’t need the constant scoring that goes on in a NBA game.

    I also like the human error factor of officiating. The NFL has become to reliant on replay. I’ve really lost all interest in watching the games. I can’t invest 4-5 hours on a sporting event while they are figuring out if an official’s call was right or wrong.

    I accept that an official is going to make the wrong call on occassions. It’s part of football. There have been many times (this weekend included) where an official got a call wrong against the team I support. But I accept it as part of the game.

    I’ve been a college basketball coach in that States for 14 years. I don’t dwell on officiating mistakes and I don’t want my player to either. If we do our job good enough, the chances are any officiating mistake won’t have an effect on the outcome. In the times that it does, I just accept it and move on.

    1. I agree with your commentary here. The NFL and college football are absurdly full of penalties and reviews and it very much detracts from the fan experience.

      The games are full of error and this evens out of the course of time. When players make mistakes they can’t redo or replay their error, why should the referee?

      I am an lfc fan and though the Suarez offside call would have provided the win and 2 more points, I accept the error and recognize that the calls even out (ie red card in the merseyside derby last year that helped lfc to victory)

      This is all a human nature part of the purest most beautiful game one the world.

  4. With the current people in power of Fifa. I dont think there is going to be a lot of progress in this.

    Or does the English FA have complete control over technology use?

  5. What the hell is so hard with the 4 official looking at a quick replay on one of the gazillion cameras in the ground after the goal is scored and give it a thumbs up or down. No need to reinvent the wheel here and make things more complicated.

    1. I agree here. Those two points taken away from us in that Everton game has so many implications. If an offsides call negates a goal, then it should be looked at every time. It doesn’t take long and is an easy problem to fix.

  6. At first I was thinking how much I would hate this because I hate video replay in the NFL and in the NBA. I hate it because it slows the game down and it puts so much emphasis on the calls being right that it forgoes whats important in these games, entertainment. For sure an unfair or wrong call can detract from the entertainment, but a correct call often does not add to the entertainment.

    When you said, “With this system they can rely on the the technology helping them if a goal is scored and if a goal is not scored there really is no harm.” I got to thinking, this system could result in a lot less dead ball time. We could see a lot fewer offsides called in the first place, which would MORE than compensate for slight delay in verifying a goal.

  7. If we’re going to go down the slippery slope of replay lets make it real simple: give each manager the ability to challenge one call a game. Limit it to plays that result or would have resulted in a goal. That would limit it to goal line and offsides only and keep the added time to a minimum.
    The ONLY other calls that might come under this would be a sending off. Red card only not a second yellow. I am not in favor of this, but limiting the calls challenged would have to be in place before it gets out of hand like American football.

    1. Agree with this completely. Also, I don’t see the harm in having every goal confirmed by replay officials upstairs. It takes a minute to get the players back after celebrations anyway, right?

    2. I don’t see how this would work properly. What if they use their challenge and later lose the game on a terrible decision. How does “would hve resulted in a goal” work ?

    3. If you challenge a call and get it correct do you get another challenge because what is to say the ref only makes one bad call?

    4. Also what about penalties? Would you be able to challenge a foul in the box or that a player dived in a box but was awarded a penalty?

  8. I’m not an NFL fan but I have many friends who are. I’ve never once heard any of them complain about replays. Perhaps because the game is so stop and go anyway. With that said, I would go so far as to say the replays for them ARE entertainment. “You see, both his feet were in grounded in the inzone when he caught it”. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing “instantaneous” justice.

    Now, Soccer is very free flowing and continuous but I still think there is room for replays. I like the idea of managers getting the chance to contest one decision a game through requesting replay. Two reviews per game is not going to destroy the free flowing nature of the game. Hell, we have way more wasted time from players mobbing officials because of a bad call than any replay would take. Also, I think its brilliant to see how managers would respond. Would they use up there only replay on a close call? This would bring in a whole-nother dimension to their decision making.

  9. If they can show the replay with the offside line on Television Broadcasts within a minute of the goal (before the other team even kicks the ball off) I’m certain they could do the exact same thing with a ref.

  10. To all saying that this would slow the game down, I heartily disagree. Here is way:
    Play stops when offside is called and when a goal (or potential goal) is scored anyway. Since happens less than ten times per game anyway, I don’t see a huge difference in game length or the flow of play. I do see a huge difference in the accuracy of calls.

  11. I understand why people want this, but I also am not a fan of reviewing any kind of offsides call. I agree the standard reasons that many give, most importantly my belief that it would slow the game down to a pace that I would not enjoy.

    Additionally, I like the human element that offsides brings to the game. Refs are not perfect, and the fact that they can make mistakes makes the a little more exciting and unpredictable for me.

    I would like to add to the common suggestion that Refs would be less likely to call an offside call. I also think that would become far more frustrating to defenders who are playing an offsides trap. The Ref decided to defer his decision to a computer could be the difference between a goal kick an a free kick near the half line.

    I do, however, support goal-line technology.

  12. Video technology to clarify a goals validity is a fine first step, if they extend it to clarify aspects of penalty decisions thats fine, but other than that I think it is unnecessary.

  13. Oh hell no. Officiating is part of the game and there will be bad calls and in the end these will even out. Let’s not go down the road to the NFL please.

  14. Thanks for all your comments. I think the most important aspect of this is that having technology would allow the refs to allow the game to flow more without having to guess.

    Also, with the speed of the modern game the role of the assistant ref to know exactly when the ball was kicked AND see if someone is offside at that time is completely impossible. Even on replays it’s sometime hard to tell exactly when contact is made with the ball.

    1. It could just be me, but I don’t mind at all when a goal is wrongly allowed when a close offsides call is missed. However I absolutely hate it when a goal is disallowed for a wrongly called offsides.

      My solution would just be to instruct assistant refs to side with the attacking player on any close play. Right now I think they side with the defenders more whenever they are unsure (it is less controversial to stop what might turn out to be a goal compared to having definitive proof a goal should not be allowed).

  15. I agree that it needs to be looked at and probably will increase the general product that is football.. How come we always need video technology when United gets lucky ?! ..just saying..

  16. I see a lot of people saying they are against it the replays because it would affect the run of play, but doesn’t the pig piles/goal celebration after somebody scores already affect the run of play. You don’t think that another ref looking a replay while the player celebrate couldn’t determine if a ball was over the line or if a player was offside.

  17. I have presented this very idea within the US soccer community. I am an experimental perceptual psychologist and my PhD dissertation is on this very topic. I am also a former State Referee, State Referee Instructor and Assessor. In the US, no one seems to care. They use the ‘try harder’ maxim. The human visual perceptual system does not allow a referee to make this call accurately all the time. The solution is as Tony suggest. A replay official reconstructs the offside geometry within the window before the restart, and has a means to communicate to the referee. The AR, knowing that the call will be made if he missed it will become very liberal and create very few false alarm (bad offside calls) and have more ‘missed’ ones. The data clearly show that the threshold of offside can be manipulated with training an ‘guidance’. Many/most game would not have this come up at all, and defenders, knowing that the play won’t stop unless there is a goal scored…won’t stop to object. This system is almost completely non-intrusive and will likely result in fewer unnecessary stoppages than the current system — AND is totally in the emerging spirit of getting the call right regardless of how that might happen. the time has come to try this and analyze the data for unnecessary stoppages and goals counted that should not be. Get on with it FIFA.

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