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The Offsides Revolution

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

by Javier Diaz

Photo by Emilio Garcia on Unsplash

Arsene Wenger, one of the most famous coaches in the sport of soccer, has launched an initiative to revolutionize the current status of the offsides rule in soccer. The rule was established in December 1863 and has constantly been amended in order to fulfill needs that were present in the soccer community.

Since its creation, there have been 5 different official versions pushed forward by the Football Association. When looking at the changes that have been made throughout history, the majority of them have been slowly making the rule less strict. As intended, softening the rules and making them less strict meant that more goals would be scored therefore making the sport more entertaining for spectators.

According to Marca, Gianni Infantino, the current president of FIFA, asked Arsene Wenger to come up with some rule changes that could potentially benefit a more offensive style of soccer. The French coach realized that the majority of goals that are invalidated are due to pesky offsides.

Traditionally, the rule was that the offensive player's body had to be entirely behind the line created by the last defender. However, Wenger is advocating for amending the rule and making it so that a player's entire body has to be in front of the line created by the last defender.

Most likely this attempt is being fueled by the increasing globalization of the sport, where foreign audiences such as the United States have sporting cultures which prefer high scoring games. By making it harder for defenders to get attackers into offsides positions, overall scores will be higher. This new addition would more than likely make games more exciting, and therefore increase revenue for teams through the increased viewership.

The Wenger rule is still in its early stages and will probably go through years of trials before being pushed toward the major leagues. However, many are debating whether or not this push to make the sport more entertaining for global audiences will undermine the classical excitement in a soccer match fueled by a last-minute winner.

Will an added-time winner be more exciting when the score was 0-0 all game? Or will the game-winning shots be equally as impactful even if the total score is around 3-3? These are questions that can not be answered without proper trials. This is why FIFA is pushing to test the rule in U-21 games in Switzerland or Italy.

All in all, the new rule is definitely something that should be looked into or at least tested to ensure that the sport maintains its roots but also increases revenue through a global appeal.

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