Euro 2020 Special

Arsene Wenger’s New Offside Rule Explained

The legendary former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and FIFA are proposing the biggest change in the offside law in more than a century. In modern football, offsides are judged by VAR rather than the traditional linesman. VAR was brought in with plenty of excitement by everyone but the technology has plenty of flaws in the process and that frustrates the normal football fan.

The biggest issue with VAR has been the way offside is interpreted. Decisions are often made by software technicians and crosshairs. It slows the game down and the emotion is slowly going away from the game. When lines are getting drawn on the software and a player is adjudged offside because their armpit or nose is marginally in front, then it becomes impossible for the fans to fathom. It’s not really football and in response, Arsene Wenger has come up with a tweak in the rule so that the game becomes interesting again.


Since 1925, the offside rule has been largely consistent in the way it is interpreted globally. It saw a slight tweak in 1990 when being level with the last defender was called onside and the play would continue. This was introduced to give attacking play impetus and since then not much has changed in the law.

The introduction of VAR has forced the football authorities’ hand to make sure that there is a change in the law as now officials are able to measure offside by millimetres. Arsene Wenger has been FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development since 2018 and he has come forward with what is believed to be a revolutionary change in the law.

Arsene has proposed that an attacking player should be considered onside if any part of the attacker with which they can score a goal is in line with the final defender. It basically means that the flag will stay down if the head or a shoulder or the boot of an attacker is level with the last defender. Earlier the whole body had to be level but now the attacker can be ahead of the final defender and it will be deemed onside if any goalscoring part of the attacker is in line.

This proposed change will allow attacking play to flourish and the sport which has normally been a low scoring one can change drastically. Wenger is super enthusiastic about his proposal and he believes that this would reduce the need for the time-consuming VAR process. He also thinks that it would lessen the need of lines being drawn on the software to make the decision.

Arsene Wenger’s theory has plenty of support and momentum behind it. He presented this at an IFAB Annual General Meeting and the response was positive. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has been a long believer that an attacking law change in football is a must and is a fan of Wenger’s idea. To be adopted, his plan would need IFAB approval after a successful trial which is reported to take place in the lower Chinese leagues pretty soon. All we can do is wait for it to change how football is played currently across the world.

Read: Top Five PFA Player of the Year 2020-21 Contenders




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