Arsene Wenger has proposed a radical new range of changes to the laws of the game – which are already under re-design by the former Premier League referee David Elleray – but will they work and might they have unintended consequences that may make things worse, not better?
Wenger was made Fifa’s head of global football development one year ago – a role that seems hazy at best but so far has been most notable for his ambitious/unworkable suggestions to change the law of the game that he has no power to enforce.
Elleray, the technical director of the game’s law-making body Ifab, has that power and has made 178 changes to the laws of the game in the last four years – including the abolition of accidental handball which has resulted in so many penalties this season.
Here we analyse Wenger’s new law change proposals – casually announced in a recent interview with the French sport newspaper L’Equipe – and whether they might cause more harm than good. Of course, any changes would also be dependent on him convincing Elleray, who seems to be on his own crusade, to include them.
No offside as long as “a [single] body part which a player can score with is in line with the defender”
A complete non-starter. Consider what Wenger is asking an assistant to look for. Currently the assistant looks along the offside line for a goalscoring body-part from an attacking player in advance of the line when the ball is played. Under Wenger’s law they would be trying to detect a goalscoring body-part behind the line which would almost always be obscured. It makes calling the decision accurately in real-time – and even with Var – almost impossible. Try freezing an offside marginal call at the point the cross/throughball is played. It is hard enough to spot goalscoring body-parts ahead of the offside line. Much harder still to spot those body-parts behind the line in a crowded area.
Another unintended consequence: it would also give an absurd advantage to attackers. Look at this still of Bernardo Silva against Leicester City – under Wenger’s law it would be onside.