The processes involved in altering football’s laws means there is no chance of any changes coming into force this summer
It is “impossible” for Arsene Wenger’s proposed change to the offside law to come into effect in time for this summer’s European Championships, according to the boss of the game’s law-making body.
Lukas Brud, general secretary of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), says the lengthy process required to alter the laws of the game means there will be no change to the offside rule before the end of the 2020-21 campaign.
Wenger, in his role as FIFA’s head of global development, had suggested the changes in an attempt to eradicate incidents of goals being disallowed via VAR for players being millimetres offside.
The former Arsenal boss believes a player should be ruled onside if any part of their body that can score a goal is behind or level with the relevant defender. The current law states that a player is offside if “any part of the head, body or feet” is beyond the last defender.
IFAB is due to hold its annual general meeting in Belfast at the end of this month where the issue of the offside law will be discussed.
It was suggested that any motion passed at that meeting could see the new law come into place in time for this summer’s Euros.
Brud, though, says there is no chance of making any changes in that timeframe.
“We have a very strict procedure that we introduced a few years ago that any proposal has to be submitted usually on or before November 1 of the previous year in order for us to be able to discuss a proposal in detail with the relevant bodies, such as our advisory panels — the football and the technical,” he told ESPN .
“The board of directors then takes a decision on which proposals go forward to the AGM for approval.
“I’m not judging the proposal, it might be a good one, but this is not up for approval or for a vote as a concrete proposal to go into the laws of the game, it’s impossible.
“The meeting is also to discuss football and some ideas, and the AGM could say OK, this might be something we want to discuss further, or give it to the [advisory] panels to get their point of view and maybe do some trialling.
“But it won’t be used at the Euros as reported by some media. Nothing can be used without being in the laws of the game, and it definitely will not be in the laws of the game next season.
“Arsene Wenger is a highly knowledgeable and experienced football expert, so we certainly welcome his ideas, but we haven’t discussed it yet and we simply cannot approve anything that was not discussed on any level so far.”
Brud admits that something needs to be done to avoid instances of goals being chalked off only after being forensically studied by VAR officials, often using zoomed-in images from multiple angles, even if the decision is technically correct according to the laws of the game as they stand.
The Premier League has reportedly asked to consider a 10cm margin of error to offside decisions, something Brud doubts is a viable solution.
“It’s something we will be discussing, but not as a concrete proposal to go forward on the agenda,” Brud added. “We need to find a solution for the lack of acceptance for taking decisions that are very accurate, even if they seem to be too forensic. But margin of error suggests you give a specific distance — what if it’s 11cm instead of 10cm?
“We need to go away from margin of error, we need to find an instruction or an understanding of how to apply the offside law with VAR. If the evidence is unclear, and you can usually quickly see if something is clearly offside or not, then the original decision stands.
“We generally do not see this being a global issue in other countries so it’s very difficult to constantly react on the offside issue. If the video footage clearly shows that the player was in an offside position, and the referee has not given offside, the decision should change.
“But you need the lines for a very simple reason. The cameras are not static, the picture that you are taking is not always in line with the angle of the offside. We know from goal-line technology that when the ball is on the line [in the air] it looks like the ball has crossed the line. When you look at it from above, the ball is still on the line. We have the same problem here.
“They [VARs] use tools to manually lay a line that is calibrated that is actually showing the truth, and not video footage alone. With video footage alone you cannot take the decision. The tool is helping the referee to make accurate decisions. This for me is the reference point, this for me is the final decision, full stop. With margin of error, where does it start and where does it end?”
“The levels of calibration and levels of accuracy have vastly improved from where it was a few years ago. We need to look into this, and we are constantly looking into this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re ignoring what the Premier League or UEFA is saying, but there are various things that play a role in this debate. “