Is it time this football ruling returned to its original roots?

With the leader of FIFA’s Task Force Football 2014 Franz Beckenbauer wading into the debate about the offside rule, are we on the brink of yet another change? The German legend described the rule as “nonsense,” saying “it is too complicated now,” (Guardian). He said:

 “There needs to be a clear and understandable rule…in my day it was simple, offside was offside. It didn’t matter where the ball was.”

The main problem that the task force face is dealing with the passive and active player rule. Just when is a player passive and when is he active? It might seem as though FIFA are flogging a dead horse in going back to this issue but it is a farcical situation. In what other sport are the referees not quite sure about certain rules? It’s a joke.

I understand why the new offside rules were brought into play. I think we all do. The original rules unfairly penalised the carelessness of strike partners and other team-mates who had wandered in to offside positions. But was that really worse than the confusion that has now ensued? Instances when the a player is seemingly passive, in that he does not touch the ball, but may hinder either the goalkeeper’s vision of a shot or the goalkeeper’s movement is a particularly blurry area and there have been examples in the Premier League where goals have been allowed or ruled offside for exactly that is just one example of where confusion has arisen.

Now Beckenbauer and his team will have time to consider alternatives before reconvening and attempting to resolve the matter. However, what are their real options? Clearly referees and players are looking for clarity on the situation and by introducing new rules based on numerous hypothetical situations do they not risk complicating the matter further? Arguably, to solve the situation devolving the law back to its original state is the most feasible option but Beckenbauer feels it is too late to return to the previous rule:

 “We have a situation with active and passive offside at the moment. I think we should stay away from complicated expressions, we should go back to making it more simple, not like it was at the beginning but somewhere in between.” (Guardian)

FIFA owe it to the sport to establish a clear and workable rule, there is simply no room for error of judgement in the largest and most popular sport on the planet. Particularly when so much is at stake for the clubs, the players and the fans.

For updates on this and other football stories follow me on Twitter @H_Mackay


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