By Simon Evans
BELFAST (Reuters) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino says he is open to changes to the offside law to help address problems that have arisen since the introduction of VAR video reviews.
Soccer’s law-making body the International FA Board (IFAB) will meet on Saturday and discuss VAR and the offside law, although no proposal has been tabled for a concrete law change.
Frustration in England’s Premier League with VAR ruling out goals for tiny margins of offside, in some cases involving heels and armpits, has led to calls for a different approach.
Some commentators have suggested there should be clear ‘daylight’ between the attacking player and the defending one for offside to be called while FIFA’s head of global development Arsene Wenger has floated another alternative.
The former Arsenal manager suggested earlier this month that a player should be deemed onside if any part of their body which can legitimately score a goal is level or behind the last defender.
“The offside discussion is an item we need to look at and personally I’m certainly in favor of discussing a new way of looking at the offside rule, to see if it can help, because I think the issue is more an issue of understanding,” Infantino told reporters on Friday.
“Some of (the decisions) are very, very close and it’s difficult for the people who are watching to see whether it’s offside, so we have to look at whether we can make the offside rule clearer by having light in between,” he added.
“But it’s for discussion of course – there will be no decision on this one because there is no proposal on the table. But it is to be discussed and to see whether it has to be tested or not,” added the head of soccer’s world governing body.
However Infantino rejected the idea of introducing some element of leeway over offsides.
“It doesn’t solve the issue. Even if you put a margin of 10 centimeters and then if it’s 11, it’s still one more, if it’s 10-1/2… it doesn’t solve it,” he said.
Infantino suggested the Premier League problem may be due to excessive examination of video reviews.
“In Italy, in Spain, in Portugal, in Germany this offside discussion is not existing on the VAR. But it’s not a problem, it’s something to look into.
“And maybe it shows that actually it’s more a question of the rule and the application of the rule, and application of the VAR itself. If you need 10 minutes to find out whether it was offside, maybe it’s not,” he said.
One option Infantino rejected outright, however, was getting rid of VAR completely.
“VAR is here to stay as far as FIFA is concerned,” he said.
(Reporting by Simon Evans; editing by Ken Ferris)