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Wenger proposes change to offside law for Euro 2020 wake of VAR controversies

The former Arsenal boss – who now has a role at FIFA – believes the change will stop goals being disallowed for marginal decisions

Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s head of global development, is proposing a radical change of the offside rule that could be introduced in time for this summer’s European Championships.

The offside law has been put under greater scrutiny in recent months following the introduction of VAR technology, which has seen goals ruled out because a player is deemed to be millimetres offside.

The current law states that a player is offside if “any part of the head, body or feet” is beyond the last defender.

When applied using VAR, which often requires zoomed in images from multiple angles, goals have been disallowed because a player’s armpit was ruled offside, including Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling against West Ham in August and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino at Aston Villa in November.

Wenger wants to change the rule so a player is ruled onside if any part of their body that can score a goal is behind or level with the relevant defender.

Speaking at the Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin, the former Arsenal boss told reporters: “The most difficult [issue] that people have [with VAR] is the offside rule.

“You have had offsides by a fraction of a centimetre, literally by a nose. It is the time to do this quickly.

“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. Instead, you will be 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.

“That 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.”

Wenger’s role at FIFA includes sitting on the technical panel of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), the game’s law-making body.

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, with any motion to change the law requiring a three-quarters majority.

If the motion is passed, the new law could come into place by the beginning of June, in time for the start of Euro 2020.

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