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Baffling decision in Real Sociedad-Barcelona match at Anoeta


In the 55th minute of the match between Real Sociedad and Barcelona at Anoeta on Sunday, there was a moment worth reflecting on. It was a free kick in the Barça half. Outside but close to the box, the classic two lines of attackers and defenders formed as they waited for the pass, with Zubeldia, a right-footed player, and Brais Méndez, a left-footed player. In what was undoubtedly a training ground move, that finally, fell to the left-footed Méndez.

The result was catastrophic. The plan to confuse Barça led to four Real Sociedad players being played offside. To make matters worse, the ball bounced past Ter Stegen and into the top corner of the net. Goal? No, it wasn’t a goal, and how, if nobody touched it? Well, because after years of altering the offside rules, given that the most advanced player was not penalised until he touched the ball, the old logic applies.

Previous rules stated that any forward player who attempted to intervene was offside. We all agreed on that. We also agreed that anyone who refrained from intervening in any way influenced the play in the referee’s opinion and should also be penalised. However, the idea changed from ‘position plus influence’ to ‘position plus influence plus intervention’ and the essential point was forgotten: the attacker’s intention to take advantage of the situation, as was the case. Now it’s back to that, but those who complained at Anoeta did so because they must have seen goals like that conceded before.


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