Huge change to offside rules planned – and Anfield could be forced to have a ‘big screen’

Arsene Wenger has proposed significant and controversial changes to the offside law from as early as this summer, in his new role as FIFA’s chief of global football.

Wenger took up the position in November and has been vocal in his assessment of the current game, including backing UEFA in their financial investigation into Man City.

The Frenchman also liaises with the International Football Association Board (IFAB), football’s lawmakers, and speaking at the Laureus World Sports Awards this week, revealed that a dramatic change could be made.

“I am in the middle of the controversial situation with VAR and it is clear that the most difficult thing that people have with it is the offside rule,” he explained.

“You have had offsides by a margin of a fraction of a centimetre, offside literally by a nose.

“I believe it is the time to do this very quickly.

“There is room to change the rule a little bit and not say that a part of a player’s nose is offside, so you are offside because you can score with that.

“Instead, you will not be offside if any part of the body that can score a goal is in line with the last defender—even if other parts of the attacker’s body are in front.

“That will sort it out because you will no longer have decisions about millimetres and a fraction of the attacker being in front of the defensive line.”

It was claimed the rules could be in place as early as Euro 2020 this summer, though IFAB secretary Lukas Brud has since explained “any law change will only follow further dialogue in game over coming months.”

Either way, whether this would “sort it out” is questionable, with many taking to Twitter to criticise Wenger’s proposal:

Wenger should be commended, at least, for his attempts to solve the issues with VAR that have damaged the game throughout the current campaign, and notably in the Premier League.

He is right to acknowledge that armpits, noses and elbows should not be deemed offside, but the key issue that would need to be addressed is the manner in which they are measured, not necessarily the parameters for ‘on’ and ‘off’.

For those watching both at home and in the stadium, VAR officials taking minutes to measure, and recalibrate, lines on a screen to judge whether or not a player’s big toe is offside detracts from the momentum, emotion and, ultimately, enjoyment of football.

Wenger’s proposal would favour the attacker, which is a positive development, but it would not solve how these situations were ruled.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 5, 2019: VAR checks an injury time penalty awarded to Liverpool during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1.(Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He is also suggesting more changes to the setup, including the appointment of former players as VAR, and the requirement of big screens at stadiums in every major league.

Anfield and Old Trafford are the only two stadiums without one in the Premier League, for better or worse.

Liverpool are already set to oversee major changes to Anfield in the coming years, with the £60 million expansion of the Anfield Road end expected to be confirmed later in 2020.