Bendtner barge sparks fresh offside debate

Wednesday was not a day to remember for Chris Hughton. After a swirl of speculation over his future, his Newcastle team became the latest to fall victim to the confusion surrounding the offside law, conceding a crucial goal to Arsenal thanks to an intervention from a player who appeared to many to have made his decisive contribution from beyond the last defender.

Theo Walcott – onside – was running through on goal while Nicklas Bendtner – offside – was jogging in the opposite direction. Mike Williamson was close to tackling Walcott before he was checked by Bendtner. Hughton described it as something "that everyone can see if they look". But Andre Marriner clearly believed that Bendtner was not interfering with play and so allowed Walcott's goal to stand. But this was the latest goal, after Cristiano Ronaldo's last weekend and Tom Huddlestone's the weekend before, to once again raise the issue of what, exactly, constitutes "interfering with play".

The laws say a player in an offside position is deemed to be "active" if they are "interfering with play", "interfering with an opponent" or "gaining an advantage by being in that position." Meat was added to these bones by Fifa's 2005 guide for referees. It said that "if an opponent becomes involved in the play and if there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalised for interfering with an opponent."

Clearly, Bendtner falls within this definition. The opponent, Williamson, was involved in the play by virtue of his attempts to tackle Walcott. And Bendtner, by running into Williamson, realised the potential of physical contact. As such, he ought to have been penalised for interfering.

But what of Huddlestone's goal for Tottenham at Craven Cottage? The ball broke to him after a corner, and he fired it in through a crowded penalty area. Assistant referee Martin Yerby raised his flag, declaring William Gallas – standing just in front of Mark Schwarzer – as active. Mike Dean disagreed and allowed the goal to stand.

The laws explains the confusion. The argument that Gallas was active rests on the presumption that his presence would have distracted Schwarzer. But this is not "interfering with an opponent" in the sense of Bendtner checking Williamson: there is little to no "potential for physical contact."

Ronaldo was active last weekend, scoring four goals but for one of them he started the move 40 yards behind the last defender. Mesut Ozil broke the trap while Ronaldo trotted back. Ronaldo then turned and headed towards goal, Ozil crossed and Ronaldo tapped in having been inactive in the phase in which he was offside.

Life would be simpler if, as Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said recently, "being in an offside position was offside."

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Life and Style
News to me: family events were recorded in the personal columns
techFamily events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped that
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn