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Play of the Week: CHI vs. SKC

Week 11's Play of the Week discusses close offside decisions - the most difficult calls in the game.

PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer said: “Close offside calls are made extremely difficult due to the following various factors.

The Flash Lag Effect is a misconception of a position of a flash relative to that of a moving object. 

“Even when both are at the same position, the flash is reported to lag behind the moving object. It is an error in localization that consists of perceiving a flashed object to lag behind a moving one when both are presented in physical alignment. 

“Previous studies have addressed the question if it is the predictability of the flash, or the moving object, that modulates the amount of error. 

“Scientific studies have proved that the human eye and brain function tells the person [in this case the AR] that the moving object [the forward] is far more advanced than the stationary object or the object moving in the opposite direction [the defender]. 

“Top ARs are aware of the Flash Lag Effect and practice hard to factor it into their thought process when considering whether a player is in an offside position. They also know that the faster the players are moving, the more tolerance they have to factor in to their decision making. 

“This is why close offsides are the most difficult calls in the game. The AR has to override what his own eyes and brain are telling him and, if they make a correct call, when it appears to every person in the stadium including himself that he is incorrect, then that call is of genius proportions. 

“This is the reason why it is easier to raise the flag than keep it down, which is by far the braver decision.

Law 11 Offside Definitions. Nearer to his opponents’ goal line means that any part of a player’s head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. 

“The arms are not included in this definition. In other words any part of the body that can score a goal. 

“This definition is another reason why the call is extremely difficult due to the fine and precise margins that are involved. There is no room for error, it is clinical – either offside or onside.

Distractions. We are dealing with professional sport with all its distractions and pressures - noisy fans, the pace of the game, defenders and attackers' movements, big money stakes, media pressure, personal pride and ambitions.

“There's also the unfairness of TV analysis when the pundits use slow motion and freeze frame, giving the false impression to viewers that the call was easy.

“The call I would like to highlight is from the Chicago Fire versus Sporting Kansas City game when, at 5:22, Quincy Amarikwa of Chicago is level with Kansas defender Seth Sinovic by virtue of his outstretched leg. 

“In normal time it appears that Amarikwa is in an offside position when the ball is played to him, due to the Flash Lag effect. Sinovic himself is convinced of this and strongly appeals. 

“The forward then in possession of the ball is brought down by SKC’s goalkeeper Eric Kronberg and a PK is awarded by referee Dave Gantar.

“Experienced AR Anthony Vasoli utilizes all the skills, thought processes and tolerances, not to mention courage, by keeping his flag down, making an outstanding call. 

“ARs at the highest levels of the game need to have all of these attributes. Vasoli’s contribution to this goal was just as important as Amarikwa and penalty taker Mike Magee. 

"This call and others similar are of genius proportions as confirmed by prominent scientific researchers of the Flash Lag Effect."

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