Sunday, October 18, 2009


Life's a Beach

This is one of the most hilarious goals of recent times, unless you're a Liverpool fan.

And, of course, by any standards of common sense it shouldn't have been a goal at all. (I just tested this on my wife, incidentally, who is conversant with the rules of the game and considered the awarding of the goal an outrage. But this might be because her best friend's partner supports Liverpool.)

Under the laws, however, the referee's decision was correct. Amazing but true.

The section on "additional balls" (p.58 of the pdf file linked above) is clearly intended to refer to footballs. And the "outside agents" mentioned two pages later are human only. No reference to beachballs, mobile phones, flying saucers or any other extraneous objects.

The interesting thing is that, as we also saw in the Holland v. Italy game from Euro 2008, there are still significant loopholes in the laws of football. Loopholes which allow utterly nonsensical outcomes, such as the one that befell Liverpool. IFAB, were you watching?

As a coda, I can't resist including a little fantasy team graphic that an e-acquaintance pointed me to.

Not true.

The 'beach ball' situation is covered in Law 5.

"The Referee:
stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind"

Anything aside from the players, officials, the ball and the field of play (including posts, flags etc.) is an "outside interference" - including beach balls.

When the ball struck the beach-ball play should have been stopped and then resumed with a drop-ball.

This sort of scenario was covered quite explicitly in the refereeing course I attended a few years ago and it is bizarre that the officials missed it.

You see, I'd still consider that an interpretation of the laws rather than a strict reading of the law. For one thing, "interference" implies some sort of intention.

My point is that the wording of the laws still allows for some silly things to happen (like the player down injured playing a guy onside, as with the first Dutch goal in that Holland v. Italy game). So why not make the wording of the laws more exact, rather than relying on exegeses in refs' courses and such (which might actually differ from course to course)?
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