Arsène Wenger is pressing to change the offside rule in his role as Fifa’s head of global development. The former Arsenal manager wants a player to be onside if any part of their body that can score a goal is behind or level with the relevant defender.
His move follows a series of video assistant referee (VAR) decisions in which goals have been disallowed because a player has been fractionally offside.
A header by Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud against Manchester United on Monday was disallowed because part of his right boot was offside, for example, and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino had a goal disallowed because of an armpit offside against Aston Villa.
“The most difficult [issue] that people have [with VAR] is the offside rule,” Wenger said at the Laureus Sports Awards in Berlin. “You have had offsides by a fraction of a centimetre, literally by a nose. It is the time to do this quickly.
“There is room to change the rule and not say that a part of a player’s nose is offside, so you are offside because you can score with that. Instead, you will be not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender, even if other parts of the attacker’s body are in front.
“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.”
Any change would need to be approved by the law-making body, the International Football Association Board. The FAs of the four UK home nations and four Fifa representatives sit on the board and passing a motion requires a three-quarters majority. The Ifab’s AGM is on 29 February but Wenger’s proposal will not be voted on and will not be in place for Euro 2020, which had been thought possible.
The Ifab’s general secretary Lukas Brud told Sky Sports News: “There will be no law change regarding offside at this month’s annual general meeting. We welcome Mr Wenger’s views and look forward to discussing it, as a group. But our AGM is a point of discussion on offside and any law change will follow only after further dialogue in the game over the coming months.”
The existing law says: “A player is in an offside position if: any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.”