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The offside that changed the rules of football

Rarely is it remembered that an action has ended up being so influential in the history of world football. Not only


Rarely is it remembered that an action has ended up being so influential in the history of world football. Not only because of the controversy that it aroused then, but also because of the consequences it has had. We refer to Kylian Mbappé’s goal in the final of the second edition of the Nations League which faced France and Spain at the San Siro Stadium.

With ten minutes to go, the game was 1-1 and seemed doomed to overtime. Suddenly Theo Hernández, a former Atlético and Real Madrid player, raises his head and sees Kylian Mbappé looking for a break. A move that the PSG star made from an outside position, just inches ahead of Spain’s last defender, Eric Garcia. The azulgrana player rushes to avoid this center and in his attempt he ends up hitting the ball, not forcefully, and leaving the ball on a plate to the Frenchman who had no mercy in front of Unai Simón. Mbappé scores and France is proclaimed champion of the second edition of the new tournament invented by UEFA to put an end to meaningless friendlies.

Tension in the locker room tunnel

The reactions begin to occur as soon as the ball crosses the Spanish goal. Didn’t Kylian Mbappé start offside? On that date, the wording of the rule of the International Board, the body that determines the rules in football, said the following: «It will be considered that a player in an offside position has not taken advantage of that position when receiving the ball from an opponent who voluntarily plays the ballincluding the voluntary hand, unless it is a ‘save’ by an opponent’.

And the gesture of Eric García on the field touching that ball, and in his attempt to reject it, is within these saves that enable the PSG striker to be offside.

According to witnesses present that night in the changing room tunnel of that San Siro stadium, the tension in the Spanish delegation was evident. They did not understand the decision of the British referee Anthony Taylor. Then the then president of the Technical Committee of Spanish Referees appeared in this area, Carlos Velasco Carballo. Position that is added to that of instructor then of VAR in UEFA and FIFA, in addition to being a member precisely of the IFAB (International Board).

Carlos Velasco considered then that the referee’s decision was covered by the regulations themselves. Something that did not sit well in the Spanish federation and that led to his departure weeks after the presidency of the arbitration establishment. Velasco is now part of the UEFA arbitration commission chaired by Roberto Rosetti.

New clarification of the standard

With the perspective of time, even then the Spanish Football Federation was right in its complaints. Because just a few weeks ago the International Board itself decided to make an explanatory note on this rule. Clarification that the Spanish arbitration establishment includes in its circular for each season.

In it, he makes it clear that “It is not offside when the defender decides to play the ball, if he has time and options to play it and it does so in a controlled and unforced way. A poor technical action by the defender when he has control of his body and time to play the ball does not invalidate voluntary/deliberate play and therefore enables the attacker’s position».

Mbappé’s goal should not have gone up on the scoreboard

In the same circular, he makes it clear that it is offside when there is non-deliberate play by a defender or a save. And he explains it like this: «It will not be considered deliberate play when the defender finds the ball unexpectedly, if he is surprised by the arrival of the ball and his gesture is a mere instinctive reaction of trying to touch it, if he has no options or time, the ball is last played from a short distance, with speed, without time to control the body and the situation» .Nor is it deliberate play «when the defender touches the ball forcefullyhaving to extend their limbs to reach the ball, with little control over the action such as intercepting a shot on goal or a save.

The circular ends by also adding that «the distance, speed, trajectory of the ball or whether it goes at ground level or through the air, are elements of justice to discern whether the defender’s action was deliberate or not and whether it was carried out in a controlled or forced manner”.

Taking into account all these elements of judgment of the new wording, and considering that what happened that October 10 in the Milan stadium, Kylian Mbappé’s goal should never have gone up on the scoreboard.