The start of the new English season brings a tweak to football’s offside rule – one that could result in quite a few goals being disallowed.
According to the rule, if a player has a shot at goal and a team-mate in an offside position makes a play for the ball – even if they don’t touch it – the goal will now be disallowed.
The new guidelines passed down to officials at all levels state: “A player in an offside position shall be penalised if he makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.”
It means players who stand in an offside position and move towards a shot or pass and make a move as though they intend to touch the ball will be penalised.
Before, a player in an offside position would have to have touched the ball to be penalised.
One high-profile example came in February this year when Juan Mata’s free-kick curled straight in during Manchester United’s match with Stoke City at Old Trafford.
Marcos Rojo, in an offside position inside the box, attempted to head the cross but missed. Nobody else made contact and Mata’s ball went straight in, and the goal was counted.
Under the rule change, the goal would not be allowed.
Officials believe the new rule will simplify the situation and dissuade players from lingering around in an offside position knowing they would not be considered to be actively involved in play.
However, the goal would still stand if a player has consciously stepped out of the way of the ball to allow the flow of play to continue.
For example, Harry Kane scored for Tottenham in a home match with Burnley in December last season following a move that began with an offside Christian Eriksen stepping out of the way of a Spurs free-kick out wide.
Another Spurs player ran onto the ball and crossed for Kane to head home. The goal was awarded and still would be because Eriksen made no move towards the travelling ball and so it didn’t affect the opponent.