Following Christian Benteke’s goal for Liverpool, yesterday against Bournemouth which won the reds the game, the age old controversy about the offside was raised again and we want to try our possible best to interpret this rule for as many football fans out there who are having problems with this rule.
An argument ensued among fans on and off social media about the legitimacy of Benteke’s goal as the Belgian was onside when the ball was played and Coutinho was offside. Coutinho did not touch the ball, but made an attempt which confused the Bournemouth goalkeeper but most Liverpool fans are claiming the goal was legitimate because Coutinho did not touch the ball so let’s see what the rules say.
The offside rule is the 11th rule of a set of 17 rules set by FIFA to govern world football and according to the rule, a player is offside when he is in his opponents’ half, ahead of the ball and ahead of the second to the last opponent (this can be the last defender but not always as if the goalkeeper is ahead of a defender, the goalkeeper becomes the second to the last player) when the ball is kicked in his direction.
According to the rules of the game, the referee should stop play and give the opposing team an indirect free kick if the offside player is
- Playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate
- Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision, challenging an opponent for the ball or attempting to play the ball while in an offside position
- Playing a ball that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position; or that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position
Now according to the interpretation of the rule given above, Christian Benteke was by no means offside when the ball was played into the box but Phillipe Coutinho was and the Brazilian attempted to play the ball and thereby stopped the goalkeeper from going to catch the ball and that was clearly in violation of subsection 2 above, making the goal a dubious one.
With that said, the referee in accordance with the 5th rule has the utmost discretion in the match, which means; when the referee takes a decision on the pitch, it is final and unquestioned. Only suspensions as a result of cards wrongly issued by the referee can be overturned by the body in charge of the tournament where the card was issued. An example of the referee’s discretion is the center referee’s decision to issue Pique a straight red card for questioning and insulting the linesman in Barcelona’s clash with Atletico Bilbao yesterday. Most referees would have either booked the player or simply warned him verbally.