Arsene Wenger is hopeful that an automated offside decision system will be ready for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Wenger, who has been FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development since 2019, is pushing for the automatic system to be developed, which would alert the assistant referee when a player is offside.
Automated Offside Decision System Being Pushed by Arsene Wenger
What Is It?
At the moment, linesmen wait for attacks to play out before putting their flag up when deciding if a player is offside. Their decision will then be confirmed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), who can sometimes take several minutes to draw out the lines, and make the final decision. The automated offside system would use technology to determine whether or not a player is offside. The technology would instantly give a signal to the assistant referee, indicating whether a player is offside or not.
Essentially, the technology would work in a similar way to the goal-line technology system. The linesman would wear a watch, on which a signal is given to tell them if a player is offside. FIFA have previously backed a semi-automated version of the system at the 2019 Club World Cup.
How Will It Improve Football?
The former Arsenal manager believes the system will bring an end to the long, painful waits for offsides to be confirmed by the VAR. Speaking on Living Football, Wenger said: “At the moment, we have situations where the players are on lines to see if they are offside or not. On average, the time we have to wait is around 70 seconds, sometimes one minute 20 seconds, sometimes a little bit longer when the situation is very difficult to appreciate.”
A big criticism of VAR is that people believe it is taking all the joy and emotion out of football. Since its introduction, there have been countless occasions where players have celebrated scoring a goal, only for VAR to embarrass them by disallowing the goal. Jesse Lingard even celebrated twice when he scored against Tottenham Hotspur in February.
“It is so important because we see many celebrations are cancelled after that for marginal situations and that’s why I believe it is a very important step,” claims Wenger.
Linesmen and women are currently encouraged to let play continue when judging marginal offside calls. As such, it was inevitable that eventually, someone was going to get injured. This, unfortunately, became a reality, when Rui Patricio was stretchered off in Wolves‘ 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in March. Fortunately, the worrying head injury was not as severe as first feared. However, the automated offside system will eliminate the risk of a player suffering a serious injury.
A Deeper Problem With Offsides
One of the biggest criticisms of VAR is the high number of marginal offside calls that are disallowing goals. On Friday, April, Wolves were the latest victim of this offside interpretation. Willian Jose was denied his first goal for the club, as Daniel Podence was adjudged to be offside by his shirt sleeve.
Step forward Arsene Wenger once again, who is also putting forward plans for the offside law to be changed. His proposal suggests that as long as any part of the attacker is in line with the last defender, then that attacker would be deemed onside. The proposed law change should see an increase in attacking football, and hopefully, more goals.