Wednesday, December 6, 2023
EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 7: Offside – Interfering with an Opponent II

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

Play of the Week 7 follows on from last week’s theme of offside – interfering with an opponent and, in particular, the importance of the dialogue between the referee and his assistants.

The example we use is from the recent New York City versus Philadelphia Union game, in the 56th minute.

In this particular play, NYCFC’s Adam Nemec is aware he is in an offside position. He avoids playing the ball by ducking and allowing a tremendous strike from his team-mate Mehdi Ballouchy to go over him and into the goal.


AR CJ Morgante is aware that the ball has not been played or touched by Nemec. But he is unsure whether he has interfered with any defenders and, by considering the criteria that we discussed in Play of the Week 6, stays in his position and informs the referee, Baldomero Toledo, that Nemec was in an offside position and asks him whether he has obstructed goalkeeper John McCarthy’s line of vision or made a challenge for the ball.

Toledo, from his superior viewing angle, is able to inform Morgante that neither is the case and as a team they decide to allow the goal.

Top class ARs never switch off, and utilize continued concentration – Morgante informs Toledo that the goalscorer Ballouchy removed his shirt when celebrating the goal, which is a mandatory yellow card offense. Toledo duly cautions Ballouchy to fully comply with the Laws of the Game.

I often get asked why referees go and have face-to-face dialogue with their ARs rather than talk over the communication kit and in last week’s POTW we saw effective communication between referee Fotis Bazakos and AR Peter Manikowski, where they arrived at the correct conclusion without the requirement for face-to-face dialogue.

In my opinion this is an area that we can’t be too prescriptive with the advice we offer our match officials as it tends to be an individual preference based on what is appropriate at that particular moment.

If a brief question and answer is required then they will more likely go for the communication kit option. However, if a more detailed description is required then face-to-face dialogue can be the preferred option.

This is another example of effective teamwork between referee and AR, albeit a different approach –  nevertheless just as successful.

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