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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 32: Ball in and out of play

In the latest Play of the Week, we are discussing Goal Line Decisions and the difficulties officials have when having to decide whether or not the ball has crossed the goal line.

This week’s play is from the LA Galaxy versus Minnesota United game. The ball is crossed by Galaxy’s Romain Alessandrini to team mate Jonathan dos Santos, whose tremendous header from the edge of the penalty area loops over United’s keeper, Bobby Shuttleworth, and strikes the underneath of the crossbar.

When it hits the ground the AR, Jeremy Kieso, is some 10 yards away from the goal line through no fault of his own. This is where the second rearmost defender is located and therefore where the offside line is. Kieso has to retain this position until the ball is headed towards goal by dos Santos. It’s impossible for anyone to keep up with the speed of the ball from the header.

Referee Alex Chilowicz is where you would expect him to be – just outside the penalty area – so neither official can make a call with certainty. The officials only have one chance to see the situation. From their positions on the pitch at ground level, if either of them made a call here they would almost certainly need to guess, and this is something that they are absolutely discouraged to do. It would be extremely difficult for them to be sure if a goal should be awarded in these circumstances.

We have said before on many occasions in previous Plays of the Week, if it is impossible to see something through no fault of your own, then you cannot be blamed for not acting on it. But if you guess and you are completely wrong, then there is no justification or excuse. Even if you fortunately make the correct call, everyone would know it was a guess.

The law states:

“The Ball in and out of play

The ball is out of play when:
It has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air”

“Assistant Referees

They indicate when:
The whole of the ball leaves the field of play and which team is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in”

Fortunately, we have Video Review to assist us in this situation. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) is able to use slow motion and freeze frame facilities in order to check all reviewable plays, which includes whether a goal has been scored. All available broadcast feeds can be used.

By using elevated camera angles and analyzing the situation with the technology available, VAR Juan Guzman was able to conclude that a goal had actually been scored. As such he recommended to Chilowicz that this play should be subject of a review and a goal awarded.

Chilowicz accepted the review and decided not to go over to the Referee Review Area (RRA) as the ball crossing the line is a factual matter. The final decision was fully accepted by everyone when viewing the replays.

In this play, Video Review most certainly helped the officials in arriving at the correct decision based on the evidence provided and moved them from a totally hopeless situation to an accepted one. It proved to be a good use of the system to rectify the situation.

However, it is fully understandable why the on-field officials were unable to make this call in real time without the need to guess, which they should never do.

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