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How Is This Allowed?

How Is This Allowed?

I`ll begin with a few disclaimers. Firstly, I know refereeing decisions go against every club at one time or another, and I am not even going to begin to exorcise any sort of persecution complex by insisting that Arsenal are any harder done by than any other team. Secondly, I accept away from the heat and tension of a game that referees are human beings and make mistakes. They have a difficult job blah, blah, blah etc. (So do teachers and doctors yet they do not seem to be permitted to extract the same sympathy). Anyway, now the mealy mouthed platitudes are concluded, let`s get to the meat of this short article.

Several bad decisions were awarded in the midst of Arsenal`s 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough this weekend. The corner from which we eventually equalised should probably have not been given. The free kick which led to Middlesbrough`s equaliser should also have not been given. I don`t think anybody has any idea whether Aliadiere`s goal should have stood or not. I have poured over Page 11 of the rule book where this much fangled, Blatter approved offside rule is articulated and the language is that irksome, political jargon designed to sound incredibly authoritative, but really just says nothing. (George Orwell once said, "Political language is designed to make lies sound true, murder sound respectful and give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind." Apt). The decisions above are perhaps forgivable, we still had a decent chance to defend Boro`s long punt downfield and we did it poorly (though the fact that Aliadiere is apparently allowed to run several yards ahead of the last line of defence gives him a distinct advantage). Likewise, Boro had a chance to defend the corner we were unfairly awarded and didn`t. Those two decisions were pretty small fry, the decision to give Boro`s goal just stems from laughable confusion at the top levels of the game. What I absolutely, 100% cannot accept is Adebayor`s wrongly chalked off effort.

It is not so much the decision itself, the linesman was some distance from the action and could have been forgiven for thinking that van Persie had played Adebayor through, not George Boateng. Halsey was mere inches from the incident and should have seen it, but like I said, mistakes can happen. But it is Halsey`s explanation that bears scrutiny. Arsene Wenger explained after the game that when he had questioned Halsey about the decision, he was told, "The intention of our player was to play the ball to one of our players, who was offside, so the deflection of the ball doesn't count anymore." According to Page 11 of the rulebook, where the offside law is relayed in full,
"A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play."

If we are to believe what Wenger has said, Halsey has admitted that he was fully aware that it was Boateng who played the ball. According to the rule above, so long as the ball is not played by an Arsenal player, Adebayor is NOT offside. It is not only that Halsey has got this costly decision ridiculously wrong, but the fact that he has been allowed to manufacture or massage the rule to his own end. Surely the Football Association needs to look at this? Halsey either does not comprehend one of the fundamentals of the offside law, in which case what is he doing officiating at this level? Or else he has simply invented a rule to suit his own incompetence, which also bears F.A. consideration. In what other profession in the world would you be allowed to so brazenly to invent the rules to suit yourself without being questioned? I currently work in the Civil Service; as such I have to sign the Official Secrets Act. If I violate this trust, I am sacked without question. I understand this fully. I would not be allowed to maneuver my way out of disciplinary proceedings by making up the rules for myself, so why is Halsey afforded this privilege? (I am sure you can all think of dozens of examples in your own places of work or colleges or universities).

Halsey even had other opt outs, he could have explained that he thought van Persie had played the ball, that ball would only have had to graze a hair on his leg for the offside call to be correct. Or, even more admirably, he could have held his hands up and admitted that he had made a mistake. The fact that he has so confidently misappropriated legislation to his own end reveals a fundamental flaw that is developing in the officiating of football. It is absolutely correct that we campaign for players to grant greater respect for referees, but respect is a two way street. I paid a lot of money to watch a game on Saturday, the Arsenal players are involved in a tight title race, it is time for referees to likewise comply and show players and fans greater respect than Mr. Halsey has shown this weekend.LD.

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Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday March 18 2008
Time: 2:07PM


To my mind Adebayor was offside. I know a Boro player got the final touch but the fact is you cannot say Adebayor was not seeking or trying to gain an advantage by standing a distance behind the last defender. We all know the offside rule is a farce, but Halsey has done us favours in the past (eg the penalty at Fulham which he then reversed) & he has cost us before. He is not the only ref to do so, you could probably find controversial incidents from every top flight referee in our matches. Its also quite possible Wenger has misunderstood what Halsey was saying to him, but regardless of whether thats true or not the one certain point is that Arsenal haven't been good enough to beat the likes of Boro or Villa at the emirates for the past two years & if you really want to win titles then that needs to change. Everyone seems to be talking about the chelski game like its a foregone conclusion that we'll go to the bridge & win, yet should we lose which there is probably a higher chance of happening then we are seriously in a fight for 3rd/4th place with Liverpool & possible even Everton.
Ashburton Gooner
18/03/2008 14:40:00
I sort of know what you mean. ade was standing in an offside position which is what made the wrong decision easier to take. I mean had RVP got the ball, how could he have played it to Ade anyway? fact is we were given the chance by a mistake from Boateng NOT by good play from us. at soon as the lino's flag went up there was not an ounce of doubt in my mind that the offside decision would stand as it would do on 99% of similar cases. I agree with the article that Halsey's reason to wenger is very suspect, but that cannot change the result now so there is little point wasting energy thinking about it. we all know refs are crap. Get on with it. as you say, it was our fault that we did not defend the badly awarded free kick properly. there are 2 or 3 wrong free kicks in every game. you still have to defend them properly.
18/03/2008 14:49:00
But that's all irrelevant AG, it's there in black and white, it doesn't matter what Adebayor was trying to do or whether he was trying to gain an advantage, because he is NOT offside. It's the same as if he had received the ball from a throw in, his intentions count for nothing because he is NOT offside and cannot even begin to be ajudged as such, which Halsey has acknowledged. The points you make about Halsey are already made in the article, this isn't about our title credentials (though United have lost to West Ham, Bolton, Man City twice and drawn with Spurs, so we are not alone in having dodgy results), nor do I entertain any conspiarcy, the article is solely about the fact that a referee has been allowed to fabricate a rule. That's the bottom line and it's not acceptable.
Little Dutch
18/03/2008 14:51:00
The rules are clear Ashburton. The ball was not deflected by Boateng, but kicked with intent to tackle. The fact it has gone through to our player makes no difference. In the past when a defender has done a blind pass back to the keeper and not seen the striker who has gone on to score it stands (henry Vs Liverpool). Rules are rules and if we are to believe what Wenger has said then Halsey is either Guilty of not knowing the rules, or no enforcing them.
18/03/2008 14:51:00
Yes, I acknowledge the result is gone, some of you are misunderstanding my intentions. This isn't really an Arsenal article at all, it happens to involve us. Remove the red specs, stop thinking about our title chances/ stupid results blah, blah, blah. The referee has got a decision wrong because a) he does not know the rules or b) he did not enforce them correctly so changed them to suit himself. There IS something that can be done about that, the F.A. simply have to insist that all refs either know the rules or enforce them correctly. That is not a whinge or a moan based on current form, that its not even close to asking too much. That is the absolute 100% bottom line, minimum expectation of the legal body and its subjects and it is not being enforced. That is entirely unacceptable and I have to question anybody who doesn't feel that is the case.
Little Dutch
18/03/2008 14:55:00
My understanding is that Halsey said that there was "intention to play the ball to a player in an offside position".. which is rubbish.. Van Persie played a square ball which Boateng stuck a toe out to. Whether Ade was offside or not is irrelevant. I believe that the goal should have stood and frankly it was a terrible decision by Halsey.
18/03/2008 15:17:00
Irrespective of whether the decision was against us or not there is a clear matter of footballing law to clarify. It is accepted that if a defender plays a ball back to his keeper and it is intercepted by a player whether offside at the time or not that any resulting goal would stand. This is a clear case of the referee inventing his own interpretation of a law. There is absloutely nothing in the rule book that justifies Halseys interpretation and the explanation he gave to Wenger hasn't been denied. Beyond that there is confusion as to what 'gaining an advantage' really means. Blackburn scored a goal at the weekend where Cruz was clearly offside when the ball was played but because it was not played directly to him he was onside by what has now become known as the second phase of play. This means that a forward can 'goal hang', the very practice the law was designed to prohibit, provided that he is behind the ball by the time the rest of the play catches up with him. In which case I don't know what else that can be other than seeking to gain an advantage.
18/03/2008 15:18:00
I meant whether Ade was offside or not at that moment**!
18/03/2008 15:20:00
Amos - the point is that the rules are ambiguous and the only clear law is that if the opposition player gets a touch and even if a player is offside and the ball gets to him, he is onside. I dont know what is open to interpretation in that.
18/03/2008 15:22:00
Well, for those with a degree is psychobabble, here is the law that is causing confusion (which has just been posted on F365 in relation to this incident) The definitions of elements of involvement in active play are as follows: Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate. Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent. Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position. So, if the Tuncay shoots, it hits the post and comes to Aliadiere, he is offside, but by passing it straight to him, that makes him onside apparently? And, as F365 point out, the question is did Aliadiere make a gesture or movement which deceives or ditsracts an opponent? Some would say running full pelt towards a gaping net would distract an opponent, some wouldn't. Anyways, there is no ambiguity with Ade's chalked off goal, that was a stick on goal and the ref has been allowed to fabricate his responsibilities.
Little Dutch
18/03/2008 15:32:00
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