Kane penalty v. Liverpool (March 2018)

Unlike Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane was not offside because he was not doing anything obvious to influence play. Dejan Lovren miskicked the ball on his own without any help.

Of course, the exchange between Jon Moss and his assistant Eddie Smart did not really help Moss’ not-so-great reputation.

Select Group too selective about their calls and whistle

This was not a good weekend for the Premier League referees, also known as the Not-So-Select Group. First, not even a minute had been played when Anthony Knockaert straightened his leg with a stamping motion and went studs-first into Luka Milivojević’s groin, turning a 50-50 challenge into 100-0. Somehow Craig Pawson only produced a yellow.

Knockaert then scored the winning goal.

Over at St. James’ Park, England number 1 Jordan Pickford was apparently playing rugby when he denied Salomón Rondón an open goal. Lee Mason didn’t even book him! At least he gave a penalty.

Pickford then saved the subsequent penalty.

Later in that match, 5 Newcastle players were in offside positions when Rondón received the ball before Ayoze Pérez scored the winning goal.

As Spurs went Spursy again, Moussa Sissoko lost his head, swiping and raking at Nathan Redmond’s feet multiple times, then shoved him and headbutted him when Redmond expressed his objections. Kevin Friend incredibly booked both of them.

And then there’s the Raheem Sterling offside. Watford had been keeping Manchester City off the scoresheet until then.

Let’s go through this line by line:

Sterling was…

  • interfering with an opponent by challenging an opponent for the ball – YES
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent – YES
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball – YES

It doesn’t get any clearer than this.

And then on Sunday, James Tarkowski took a piggy back ride on Alisson like a toddler as a Burnley corner floated into the goal. Neither Andre Marriner nor his assistants saw this or saw this as a foul.

But there is no need for any form of replay whatsoever to assist the referees because it’ll “change the game.”

Sterling offside goal v. Watford

The assistant referee raised his flag for offside, but Paul Tierney inexplicably overruled him, presumably because Daryl Janmaat first kicked the ball onto Raheem Sterling.

Update: The Sun reports that Paul Tierney admitted that he made a mistake. (I’m reluctantly using The Sun.)

Firmino goal vs. Manchester City (2015)

This was Liverpool’s brilliant goal against Manchester City in November 2015:

At the time, people were quite confused about why this was not offside when Coutinho poked the ball to Firmino.

Many people thought Firmino was offside because he was “behind the defenders” with only the goalkeeper to beat and he received a “forward pass.”

The direction of the pass is actually irrelevant, contrary to popular opinion.

FIFA Law 11 – “A player is in an offside position if:

• he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent”*

Applying the letter of the Law, when the ball leaves Coutinho’s boot, Firmino is closer to the goal line than the second-last opponent, but he is not closer to the goal line than the ball. He is not in an offside position.

*The updated language now reads:

• any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

Tottenham v. Arsenal offside confusion

Was Harry Kane offside when Shkodran Mustafi pushed him?

IFAB doesn’t seem to help matters. “Playing the ball” appears to mean to IFAB “touching the ball,” so that means Kane was certainly pushed before he played the ball. However, weren’t Kane and Mustafi “challenging” each other for the ball as soon as the ball left the grass, and hence Kane is offside?

I suppose the answer depends on when EXACTLY – down to the millisecond – Kane was first considered to be attempting to play the ball.

If Kane was attempting to head the ball or challenging Mustafi before Mustafi pushes him, then it’s offside. If Kane was attempting to head the ball or challenging Mustafi after Mustafi pushes him, then it’s a penalty. So, I wonder why Kane was making a run then in the general direction of the ball. Clear as mud.

A similar thing happened during Schalke v. Manchester City.

If Fernandinho brought down Salif Sané after Sané attempted to play the ball, then it’s offside. If Fernandinho brought down Sané before Sané attempted to play the ball, then it’s a penalty.

Glad we cleared that up.