Offside law clarified by IFAB after glut of controversial goals, including Kylian Mbappe in UEFA Nations League

IFAB has updated its offside guidelines after a number of controversial goals and incidents in recent seasons where the striker has benefited from being in an offside position.

The most notable incident occurred last October, when Kylian Mbappe scored the winning goal for France against Spain in the UEFA Nations League final.

Mbappe was clearly offside when Theo Hernandez attempted a through pass, but Spain defender Eric Garcia played the PSG forward by touching the ball when he tried to intercept the pass.

Why was Mbappe’s “offside” goal allowed to stand?

Referee Anthony Taylor allowed the goal because Garcia made a deliberate attempt to play the ball, a decision supported by the VAR. Roberto Rossetti, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer, who is a member of the FIFA Council, called for the law to be updated as it was not in the spirit of the game to allow the attacking player to benefit from being in an offside position.

Although the IFAB has insisted that the law itself remains unchanged, a new list of ‘intentional play’ guidelines has been issued. This means that controlled play on the ball, such as a foul pass, will now return to the offside phase.

The guidelines for “intentional play” are now defined as:
The ball moved from a distance and the player had a clear view of it
The ball wasn’t moving fast
The direction of the ball was not unexpected
– the player had time to coordinate their body movement, i.e. it was not an instinctive stretching or jumping state, or a movement that achieved limited friction/control
A ball that moves on the ground is easier to play than a ball in the air

Since Garcia’s attempt to stop Hernandez’s pass was an instinctive stretch, Mbappe’s goal would now be offside.

Video examples provided by the IFAB of situations that may now be offside include:
– Harry Kane off Lucas Klostermann’s late penalty kick for England against Germany in the UEFA Nations League in June.
Romelu Lukaku on his goal for Belgium against Russia at Euro 2020 when the ball went off Andrei Semenov and ran towards the striker to score

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