Managers call for changes to offside rule

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The Independent Football

The controversial offside law could be changed after Europe's most senior managers won the support of Uefa, European football's governing body, for an alteration to the rule.

The controversial offside law could be changed after Europe's most senior managers won the support of Uefa, European football's governing body, for an alteration to the rule.

Uefa's technical director, Andy Roxburgh, will raise the issue with the world governing body, Fifa, after members of Europe's élite coaches forum - including Arsène Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Gérard Houllier - complained about the interpretation of "not interfering with play". They also want changes to the automatic red card for fouls in the penalty area that deny a goal-scoring opportunity.

Roxburgh, the former Scotland coach, said: "A lot of our colleagues are being worried about the interpretation of passive offside being exploited. Gérard Houllier even believes that if we don't change this interpretation, it's going to change the face of the game. Teams are already working on strategies and coaches adapting to the interpretation. If there's a clear gaining of an advantage, then it should be judged offside."

Currently a player can stay in an offside position virtually up until the moment he kicks the ball into the net. Roxburgh accepts there will always be a grey area with offside but he and the managers believe the interpretation is too lax.

He added: "The ruling needs to be tightened up. It caused chaos in England last season. If, for example, a striker is in an offside position in the centre of the pitch when the ball is played down the flank and the winger then quickly crosses, then he has clearly gained an advantage from being offside in the first place, even if he was onside when he actually scored.

"There is a time element to it. If the winger beats two players and then crosses it for the striker, then there should be no problem. Players can still stay in an offside position and try to time their run but if the ball is played forward and there is a quick advantage gained, then it would be ruled offside."

Meanwhile, Bolton's Henrik Pedersen is playing to a higher standard than all players in the English game this season except for Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Jose Antonio Reyes, according to official Premier League statistics. Pedersen, who has scored three Premiership goals this season, is rated above the likes of Didier Drogba, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Alan Smith in the Actim Index.

Under the Actim system, former players report live from stadiums and experts provide a final rating after applying a mathematical formula. Both Pedersen and his team-mate Jay-Jay Okocha are in the top 10.

Henry leads with an index of 1.60, with Reyes second on 1.29 and Pedersen on 1.23. Arsenal's Dennis Bergkamp and Freddie Ljungberg are fourth and fifth respectively, both on 1.17.

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