PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer looks at the role of an AR in week 11’s Play of the week.
The example used is from the midweek game between San Jose Earthquakes and Toronto, which ended 2-1 to San Jose.
Paul said: “In my opinion, Assistant Refereeing is one of the most complex roles in the game. This play highlights one of the many difficulties that AR’s face – when they are expected to see and decide on two events at the same time.
“In this incident, there is a player in an offside position in front of the AR but, at the same time, there is a foul challenge to the left of the AR. As it is impossible to see and adjudicate two events at the same time in two different directions, what the AR has to do is prioritize. This is what the AR does in this particular case; he decides to focus on the foul challenge, which he identifies and raises his flag accordingly. By doing so, he misses the player in the offside position, who crosses the ball over from which a goal is almost scored, from the referees’ advantage.
“The AR’s focus should have been the offside decision as that is his primary function. He is the only official that is responsible for deciding whether the player is offside, in this case he cannot expect any of his colleagues to help him. The foul challenge is mainly the referee’s responsibility, so in this case the AR should have concentrated entirely on the offside decision and left the foul challenge to the referee.
“We recently held an AR training day and one of our field exercises was working on peripheral vision, trying to focus on two events at the same time which demonstrates to the AR’s the difficulties they face. When you observe them participating, you can see that they naturally choose a primary target to focus on, the other target becomes secondary. In this Play of the week, the AR chose the wrong target.”