Whether the umpire’s job in cricket was even possible, due to the speeds and distances involved, it got me thinking about umpire decisions which are dubiously possible, and this next one’s a corker…
It’s the offside rule in football/soccer
Football only has 3 referees, well actually only one, and 2 ‘assistants’.
The ref is on the pitch and goes with the action all over the pitch, but the assistants only cover half the pitch each, running up and down the touchline.
They used to be called linesmen, but that was changed to referee’s assistant, presumably because ‘linesman’ didn’t sound important enough!
Now, when we consider the refereeing of the offside rule, we need to take the dimensions of the pitch into account.
A football pitch can be 100 yards wide, and 120 yards long, so each linesman, er sorry, assistant has to watch over an area of up to 60 x 100 yards.
That’s a big area!
When it comes to the offside rule, the ref always relies on the assistant, because the ref cannot be in the right position to make the decision, whereas the assistant should be.
Here’s where we get down to the point – *is* the assistant ref actually able to make the decision?
Let’s assume that he (I’ll go for ‘he’, the subject of female refs is another article!) is in the right spot, and is level with the last defender.
The decision of offside or not depends on where the attacking player is *when the ball is kicked forward*.
Not before it is kicked, not after it’s kicked, but as it’s kicked.
So, an assistant ref is expected to make sure he’s in line with the last defender, spot the pass being made, and at the same time, judge the position of the attacking player?
Come on, that can’t be right!
Remember the attackers and defenders can be in an area up to 60 x 100 yards, and the pass might be made from the other half!
It surely isn’t possible for someone to see all those things at the same time, is it?
It either must come down to peripheral vision, or guesswork.
Since there is no tv replay as yet in soccer, I guess we’ll have to carry on living with it as we have done so far, but blimey, who’d be a referee? Not me, that’s for sure!!