Friday, June 11, 2010

The Living Daylights

For those who have not seen the opening match of the 2010 World Cup featuring South Africa and Mexico, we were treated to a good match in all aspects, in particular was the refereeing. Irmatov, did an excellent job of ushering in the World Cup at an elevated, yet controlled pace.

One incident of note that I wanted to highlight was that at the 37:08' mark, where the Senior Assistant referee,  RAFAEL ILYASOV, made a brilliant offside call. A still of the video is below, and while hard to see, here is the gist.

The still is at the moment that the ball was flicked on by a Mexican player on the 6 yard box. It was flicked to the Mexican player inside the 6 yard box (the only one).

ESPN has a neat video technology that shades from the 2nd the last defender (remember the one that is where  we judge offside from) to the goal ... think of it as the "offside zone". Below we can see the RSA goalkeeper (wearing red) and the shaded area back to the goal, that is the "offside zone", and there is a Mexican player standing right inside of it.

It was really close though (in real time) as the amount of time for the ball to travel about 3 yards at about 40MPH is quick. Couple that with the RSA player going one way, and the MEX player going the other ... and bing, bing, we were pulling the ball out of the back of the net.

There are a couple of ways to go with this one from here (at least). One angle for later is similar to the Joyce post from before ... when should this one stand as a goal, even if offside? World Cup? Opening match? FIFA wants goals ... right?

As I teased before, I will answer this one later ... I am ducking again.

Now is the time to ask, when is even - even? Or how does one judge when a player is even with another and preclude an offside decision?

One way to think about it is if the two players are, when looking across the field, overlapping each other substantially when the ball is played. One question that is often asked, is if there is "daylight" between them, or specifically their torsos.

Simple question, impossible circumstances. This can be hard to do with everything going fast, or if you are asked to do this across the width of the field, which in this case is around 75 yards (look at the marks on the field in the still).

If you look above, or saw the match, you can see there is a bunch of "daylight" between the RSA keeper, and MEX forward that puts the ball in the net. Like I said, it was close, and moving at 100 miles an hour made it that much harder. ILYASOV got it right though, 100% in my opinion.

So when that is you running a line, and there is "daylight" between the 2nd to last defender and the attacker, with the attacker ahead of the 2nd to last defender, raise the flag if they are gaining an advantage from that position as they are offside.

It bears noting that the "experts" calling the match for ESPN got it dead wrong and really dug themselves a pretty good hole about it. It still boggles my mind that folks involved in the game at such a high level genuinely have no clue understanding one of the laws of the game that has such critical bearing on the result.

For those looking for the official match report, it can be downloaded from FIFA here.

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