Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America ClassifiedsGame Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Ruud awakening, or the right call?
by Ridge Mahoney, June 10th, 2008 6:45AM



[REF WATCH] Did Swedish referee Peter Frojdfeldt and his officiating crew blow it Monday night in Berne by not disallowing Ruud van Nistelrooy's goal for offside in a spectacular 3-0 Dutch defeat of Italy, or did he properly interpret the nuances of what he should do when a defending player, in this case Christian Panucci, leaves the field of play?

Rule 11, which governs offside, cites that a defender cannot remove himself from a situation by deliberately stepping off the field of play. An attacking player in an offside position is permitted to step off the field to demonstrate he is not involved and thus not be punished. Defenders, though, have no such liberty; and are considered to be in the play whether or not they are on the field. The fact that Panucci left the field of play trying to play the ball does not erase him from the situation.

Keeper Gianluigi Buffon and Panucci collided and fell beyond the goal line in the 26th minute as Buffon punched a cross back into the field of play. Buffon scrambled back into position as Panucci, perhaps stunned by the impact, lay a few yards behind the line.

The Netherlands controlled the ball, Wesley Sneijder fired it low toward goal from the left side, and van Nistelrooy, with only Buffon between him and the goal, re-directed the ball into the net. Italian arms went up, claiming offside, but the assistant referee's flag stayed down.

The call may simply have been botched visually, i.e., the assistant referee didn't view it correctly. Or, he may have interpreted it rightly.
In this case, Panucci cannot automatically remove himself from the play and thus van Nistelrooy be judged offside. Panucci could be stunned, tired, or faking an injury to dupe the referee. (Soccer players, Italians especially, have been known to do this.)

And it is hardly unusual that referees allow play to continue and wait for the first convenient stoppage to assess an injured player, especially in a potential goalscoring situation. Had Panucci fallen on the goal line itself, just a few yards from where he ended up, play surely would have continued and there'd be no doubt of his presence being relevant to the determination of offside. That he was a few yards off the field doesn't change this scenario.

A subtle fact that hurts Italy's case is that Dutch midfielder Nigel de Jong, who challenged for the cross, also fell beyond the goal line, but bounced right back up and got far enough upfield to gain an onside position as the Italian defenders pushed up to trap van Nistelrooy. Panucci also came back onto the field during the protest and lined up for the kickoff. He may have had the wind knocked out of him.

If Frojdfeldt believed Panucci to be badly injured, he could have blown the whistle for that reason. But unless he knows that a serious injury has occurred, he is not obligated to do so, and in most circumstances, a play around the goalmouth or moving toward the penalty area would be allowed to continue unless an injured player, say one laying on the penalty spot or on the goal line between the posts, is deemed to be in danger and/or influencing play.

Now, could Frojdfeldt have employed "spirit of the law," that grey area where common sense meets sporting justice, to blow the play dead with Panucci off the field? Maybe. However, that same philosophy could be used in reverse: why punish the attacking team, the Dutch, by depriving them of a scoring opportunity because of some misfortune that befell their opponents? Since Buffon, not DeJong or any other Dutch player, collided with Panucci, there is no foul, and no reason to blow the whistle.

Had Panucci been able, or willing, to rush back onto the field of play, he may have been able to intervene. Or, he might have crossed the goal line just as Sneijder drove the ball toward goal, and erased all doubt when van Nistelrooy struck a savage blow to Italy's Euro 2008 campaign.


No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
Lloyd and Ellis are nominees for FIFA awards    
Carli Lloyd, whose hat trick led the USA to a 5-2 win over Japan in the ...
Waldrum (still without a contract) returns to T&T women    
When Trinidad & Tobago faces the USA in the first of two friendlies Sunday in Honolulu, ...
What They're Saying: Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto da Silva    
"Five years ago, [MLS] paid to [be on television]. In 2010, it was paid $68 million, ...
New U-17 cycle begins on cautionary note    
In past years, the Nike International Friendlies, the annual year-end tournament for the age group that ...
Report: Miami Beckham United moves on to fourth option    
David Beckham's group seeking a home for an MLS club has its maps of Miami out ...
Close call can't erase Red Bulls' sense of accomplishment    
A year that started in controversy and uproar ended with another playoff setback, but during 2015 ...
What They're Saying: Dax McCarty    
"The first thing I want to do is to apologize to our fans. They've been fantastic ...
Video Pick: Dortmund pals perform synchronized warm-up    
Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the Bundesliga's leading scorer, and Marco Reus' balletic warmup (dubbed a "Bromance ...
Video Pick: Barcelona delivers a Messi & Neymar montage    
Barcelona put together a one-minute video featuring the feats of its two FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015 ...
MLS: RSL's Schuler, Gil and Silva are out of contract    
Real Salt Lake re-signed defender Jamison Olave and exercised the 2016 contract options on seven players, ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives