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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 23: The offside law – interfering with play

Houston Dynamo versus Philadelphia Union

Play of the Week 23 with PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer features an offside call in the Houston Dynamo versus Philadelphia Union game.

Rejer said: “Since the Offside Law interpretation change in 2005, which clarified that a player has to be ‘active’ before he commits an offside offense, ARs have been taught the ‘wait and see’ technique.

“This simply means waiting until an offense has been committed before raising the flag. The three ways a player can be active are;

– Interfering with play
Interfering with an opponent
– Gaining an advantage by being in that position

“I often refer to it as ‘think PIG’ as an easy reminder.

“In previous editions of Play of the Week I have covered interfering with an opponent and gaining an advantage and this week I am completing the set by discussing interfering with play – probably the easiest of the three to interpret.

“The law’s guidelines state; Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate.

“So, bearing in mind that players cannot be penalized for being in an offside position until they commit a ‘PIG’ offense, ARs have to wait and see before raising the flag.


“In this incident Dynamo’s Giles Barnes played the ball forward. His teammate Will Bruin, who was in an offside position, started running towards the ball but stopped short to allow Barnes to intercept.

“AR Frank Anderson anticipated that Bruin was going to play the ball and incorrectly raised his flag.

“As soon as he raised his flag he realized his error and admitted to an understandably puzzled Houston head coach Dominic Kinnear that it was “his mistake”, in an honorable effort to take the heat off referee Baldomero Toledo.

“But should he alone take the blame? I say no. Modern day referees also have a responsibility to consider offside offenses of this nature. Toledo could see that Bruin did not play the ball and, therefore, has not committed an offense. He should have over-ruled Anderson to achieve the correct call.”

What does Rejer believe we can learn from this incident?


– Always utilize the ‘wait and see’ technique before raising the flag.

– Do not anticipate, no matter how obvious it may appear, that the player in the offside position is going to play the ball. Wait until he actually commits an offense.

– Keep the flag in the left hand when facing the field of play, all the way to the goal line, as this provides you with longer thinking time, while you change hands to your right hand to indicate.


– Share offside decision-making responsibility and do not automatically accept the adjudication of the AR.

– Gone are the days when referees should say “offsides are yours at all times” in pre-match instructions.

– Teamwork – think of the team and how you can assist your assistant.

Fans, players, coaches and TV pundits:

– Do not criticize an AR for taking his time before signaling for an offside offense – he may be using the ‘wait and see’ technique to make sure he makes the correct call, for the good of the game.

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