February 18 – Former Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, now FIFA’s head of global development, is pushing for the offside rule to be tweaked in time for this summer’s Euro 2020 finals in response to a spate of VAR controversies this season.
Wenger favours players being ruled onside if any part of their body that can score a goal is behind or level with the relevant defender.
Scores of video assistant referee decisions have disallowed otherwise perfectly good goals because players have been fractionally offside. The latest incident came on Monday when Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud’s had an effort against Manchester United overruled because a tiny part of his right boot was offside.
“The most difficult [issue] that people have [with VAR] is the offside rule,” Wenger said at the Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin. “”Maybe there is room to change the offside rule a little bit. You have had offsides by a fraction of a centimetre.”
At present, a player is offside if any part of their body with which they can score is ahead of the last defender. Wenger suggested amending the law so that “you will not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the attacker’s body are in front”.
“There is room to change the rule and not say that a part of a player’s nose is offside, so you are offside because you can score with that. This will sort it out and you will no longer have decisions about millimetres and a fraction of the attacker being in front of the defensive line. It is the time to do this quickly.”
Wenger’s proposals, which would shift the benefit of the doubt back in favour of the attacker, will be considered by the International Football Association Board, the game’s rule-making body, on February 29. Wenger sits on the technical panel of IFAB which comprises the four British home associations and FIFA.
Any changes could come into force on June 1, shortly before the European Championship finals which start 11 days later.
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