Rules Chief Speaks On BF Controversy

Photo: The Herald

Rules chief David Elleray with the game’s bible.

The international Football Association Board, the organisation in charge of writing and amending regulations that govern world football, yesterday cast light on the controversy sparked by a big call made by assistant referee Thomas Kusosa which led to the abandonment of the big match between Highlanders and Dynamos.

A fierce debate continued to dominate domestic football yesterday as the row over the controversial goal scored by Dynamos, which led to the abandonment of the big match, raged on.

Bosso fans charged that DeMbare’s Cameroonian import Christian Ntoupa Epoupa’s strike in the 42nd minute should not have been allowed to stand because the forward was in an offside position by the time he picked up possession.

But Dynamos fans have been arguing that their striker, who appeared offside when defender Elisha Muroiwa hit the ball goalwards, was played onside when the ball came off Highlanders’ defender Peter Muduwa.

It also emerged yesterday that the graphic which was published in many mainstream newspapers yesterday does not answer the question related to the events at Barbourfields on Sunday and most of those regulations were for the 2004 season and have long been updated.

While both camps are clear on the provisions of Law 11, which deals with offside, the difference — it appears — is found in the interpretation of the law:

Was the ball, which came off Muduwa, a result of an attempt by the defender to block Muroiwa’s effort and, if that was the case, what does the law say?

Did the ball just deflect off the Bosso defender, without an attempt by him to play it, and if that is the case, what does the law say?

The IFAB Technical Director David Elleray yesterday cast light on the issue and said, according to the latest amendments to Law 11:

If a defending player “deflects” a pass from an opponent which immediately goes to a player who was in an offside position then that player can be penalised for offside.

If a defending player deliberately plays the ball and it goes to a player who was in an offside position then that player is not penalised for offside. It does not matter if the ball does not go where the defender intended, if he played the ball deliberately then the Law does not exist to “save” his poor play.

In simple terms a “deflection” is when the player does not move towards the ball or make an attempt to play it (in effect he is “hit” by the ball).

The local refereeing experts, themselves, failed to agree yesterday with one saying, as far as he could see, the assistant referee should have penalised the Cameroonian for being in an offside position.

“The wording is very tricky, and that is where you can either get it wrong or right, and as far as I am concerned, the incident was just an attempted clearance, or blockage, of the ball by the opposition defender and when the ball went to the striker he didn’t make him onside because if the same ball had gone to the ‘keeper from that defender, there is no way that the ‘keeper could have been penalised for handling a back pass because it wasn’t,” said one expert.

But the other expert had a different view. “The law asks if there was an attempt to block the shot, and if there was and a deflection resulted from that, then that defending player cannot be protected by his carelessness and that way the opposition forward, who was offside, becomes onside because he is receiving the ball from his opponent,” he said.

“I can ask you another question, if that ball had gone into the nets, whose goal would you have given to — the Dynamos player who had hit it at the beginning or the last player who touched it, in this case the Bosso player?

“If you can answer that, and having seen that the ball in question actually changed direction in a very big way, then it should give you an idea that this was a play that can be punished and the assistant referee who made that call that the striker wasn’t offside made the right call.

“In any way, whatever the case, surely, you can’t tell me that was the basis of a match being abandoned because we have seen even worse incidents, where the calls, in my opinion, were wrong in the English Premiership this weekend, but the matches went the distance.”

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