VAR controversy could see change in offside rule

By Ben Kearney

Further mass-criticism of VAR has prompted Arsene Wenger to announce that changes to the offside rule could be made, to help reduce ambiguity.

Wenger, who is now FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, has suggested that a player could be onside if part of the body that could score was in line with the defender, even if other parts of the body were in front.

Speaking at the Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin, he said: “The most difficult [issue] that people have [with VAR] is the offside rule. Maybe there is room to change the offside rule a little bit so we don’t say a part of his nose was offside.”

He added, “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.”

At this time, the offside rule in place states that a player is offside if any part of their body that can score is ahead of the defender.

Ewan Pow, Scottish FA Edinburgh and District area referee – who has been involved in a match with the technology in use, believes there are positives and negatives:

“The principle of correcting clear and obvious errors is where VAR is best used. Offsides are a double-edged sword for me.

“ It is tough for the referee – last year people would berate referees if an offside was shown from lines drawn from live coverage. Now we are drawing the same lines are ‘ruining football’.”

Pow holds the system used in Major League Soccer in high regard:

“MLS is an example of how to utilise VAR; in which the naked eye is used in combination with various angles of the incident. This is a good balance and is works well.”

He concluded: “VAR certainly has a long way to go, for me, the future lies in giving the match officials the decision, not a computer.”

The International Football Association Board – who are the governing body who determine the rules of the game, will discuss the issue at the end of the month. 

You can watch this video created by the MLS, to see how VAR is operated:

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