By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer
Cooperation between the referee and assistant referee to arrive at the correct decision on offside is the most regular feature on Play of the Week.
This is where teamwork is absolutely crucial. With different angles, the AR has certain information and the referee has the missing information that the AR needs to complete his decision.
The play we are discussing is from Montreal Impact versus New York Red Bulls.
From a long throw-in into the penalty area by Impact’s Ambroise Oyongo, the ball goes to teammate Blerim Dzemaili, who takes a shot on goal. The ball ends up in the back of the net.
AR Philippe Briere can clearly see that Dominic Oduro is in an offside position. There are two other possibilities to be taken into consideration. He needs to know:
1. Is Oduro interfering with an opponent by clearly obstructing his line of vision?
2. Is Oduro interfering with play by touching or playing the ball passed or touched by a teammate?
Briere needs to speak to referee Mark Geiger to obtain the information he needs. He stands still without raising his flag and he immediately points to Oduro. Briere asks the referee to come over.
Geiger, now alerted by his colleague, goes over. Despite the communication kits used by match officials, it is always preferable to speak face-to-face for clarity and so everyone is clear that dialogue has taken place.
This exchange only takes seconds. Geiger establishes that the ball made contact with Oduro, and Briere confirms that Oduro was in an offside position – putting the jigsaw together.
Geiger raises his arm to indicate offside, while Briere raises his flag.
Interestingly, this offside could have been called for interfering with an opponent or for interfering with play. However, whether a player is clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision is always subjective. Interfering with play is factual, depending on whether the player touched or played the ball, which leaves nothing to debate.
You can see Mark Geiger explaining the call to Impact’s Patrice Bernier and Ignacio Piatti. He then receives help from an unexpected source in Red Bulls captain and U.S. international Sacha Kljestan, who assists in explaining the offside law. Sacha, there may be a vacancy at PRO when you hang up your boots!
In summary, this play highlights and reinforces the necessity for dialogue in these jigsaw offside situations. The assistant referee must seek help from the referee and the referee must maintain awareness to be able to assist the assistant accordingly.
When both pieces are put together they arrive at the correct conclusion.