Soccer offside rule changed to reduce confusion

Soccer’s rule-making body sought Saturday to clarify the sport’s

offside definition in a bid to reduce widespread uncertainty for

referees, players and fans.

In a change to take effect July 1, the International Football

Association Board has cleared up when exactly attackers are

influencing play.

The change states that an attacker should be considered offside

when ”gaining an advantage by being in that position” in

situations that will now include receiving the ball from a rebound

or deflection from the goal frame or a player in the defending team

attempting a tackle, block or save.

IFAB, which includes officials from FIFA and the four British

federations, also attempted to safeguard its future by opening up

its decision-making process.

With the organization of world soccer undergoing an overhaul

under the wake of a series of corruption scandals, there were calls

for the British to cede its influence on IFAB, which has been

meeting since 1886.

But at the annual IFAB meeting in Edinburgh, FIFA President Sepp

Blatter said ”this institution will go on.”

”I am sure it will not be a victim of the reform of FIFA,”

Blatter added.

FIFA is looking to take greater control of IFAB by establishing

a new unit to run the body while stressing that the ”composition

will remain unchanged.”

The IFAB agreed to consult more by establishing a technical

panel including refereeing experts and a soccer panel with about 20

former players and coaches as well as current coaches.

”The IFAB has agreed that greater levels of consultation are

required to provide greater transparency and opportunities for

other associations and stakeholders to contribute with ideas and

initiatives to benefit the game,” Scottish Football Association

chief executive Stewart Regan said. ”This will need to be approved

by FIFA Congress in May.”

IFAB meetings previously had been divided by the issue of

goal-line technology, which was settled in the last year after FIFA

President Sepp Blatter ended his opposition to high-tech aids being

given to referees.

FIFA announced Friday that a fourth system had been licensed.

GoalControl-4D, which uses seven high-speed cameras aimed at each

goalmouth, joins another camera-based system, Hawk-Eye, and two

other projects – GoalRef and Cairos – which use magnetic field

technology to judge if the ball crossed the line.

FIFA has yet to disclose the price of the technology, but FIFA

General Secretary Jerome Valcke said the cheapest costs around

$100,000 to install in a stadium and maintain.

Valcke spoke after the IFAB approved having goal-line technology

decisions that are sent to referees’ watches also shown on stadium

video boards and television broadcasts.

The IFAB also decided that competition organizers can allow the

technology to be used in competitions, such as World Cup

qualifiers, even if not all countries have systems in place.

CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb said Saturday that he hoped to

have goal-line technology in stadiums for the Gold Cup, which is

being held in the United States in July.

The IFAB delegates deferred two decisions.

Instead of approving trials of electronic chips in players’

shirts that could potentially warn of medical problems, a group of

experts will examine the benefits of such devices in the next year.

Electronic communication between players and staff is currently

banned.

IFAB also wants further consultation before deciding whether to

close a loophole on goals following uncontested dropped balls.

The rule change being considered would stop a goal being allowed

if one team expecting to receive the ball after an uncontested drop

has not touched it before their opponents scored.